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The president and secretary-treasurer of Local 301, representing outside workers with the City of Montreal, were imprisoned March 23 on rioting and conspiracy charges arising from a demonstration in 1993.

Having lost their appeal, Jean Lapierre and Denis Maynard have begun six-month sentences.

Claude Généreux, president of SCFP-Quebec, denounced the jail terms and the double standard that leaves official corruption and criminal activity unpunished while targeting union leaders fighting for workers’ rights.

Michel Parent, vice president of the union, echoed this sentiment saying, “If the goal is to immobilize us, to break us, it’s going to produce the exact opposite effect. Our members are mobilized more than ever and this mobilization will remain very visible until Jean and Denis are released.”

The charges stem from a demonstration to oppose Bill 102, legislation imposed by the Quebec government in 1993 that allowed municipalities to cut wages by 1% and freeze salary levels for two years. Workers stormed City Hall causing $35,000 damage. The Local has since made restitution for the damages.

To protest the sentences and demonstrate support for the jailed activists, an ongoing vigil is being held in front of the FTQ headquarters in Montreal and a second vigil is being held in different locations around the city, collecting signatures of support on a petition.

A demonstration of support will be held on Tuesday 30 March at 4:15 p.m. in front of the Palais de Justice in Montréal, at the corner of Notre Dame and St. Laurent.

Locals across Canada are encouraged to express their support for the jailed leaders. You can send your message to the Syndicat des cols bleus regroupé de Montréal, 9650 Papineau Street, Montreal H2B 1Z7 or fax to (514) 384-0990 to the attention of Michel Parent, vice president of the Local.