Support staff at the Université de Sherbrooke today accepted the tentative agreement recommended by the conciliator, ending the general strike that began on August 26.
On Thursday, December 15, the support staff will start gradually returning to work. At a general meeting at the Delta Hotel in Sherbrooke, union members voted 66.9% in favour of the recommendation.
The new six-year contract covers the period from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2015. On the issue of wages, which was at the heart of the dispute, the increases will total 14% over six years.Other major gains have been made by the workers, particularly in terms of the integration of research employees and the creation of a new salary scale.
“The conciliator, Jean-Pierre Gosselin, offered to present a settlement recommendation to the support staff. Ultimately, our members found the recommendation to be an acceptable compromise.They will return to work with their heads held high, having achieved several key objectives,” noted CUPE representative Michael Murray.
“It took this three-and-a-half-month strike for the University administration to listen to reason.The support staff have been without a contract for almost four years until today’s settlement. And for the research employees, it has been nearly five and a half years. In the end, we forced the University to go a long way in our direction,” said Stéphane Caron, President of the union of Université de Sherbrooke support staff (Syndicat des employées et employés de soutien de l’Université de Sherbrooke – SEESUS).
“A labour dispute of several weeks is never easy, but sometimes it’s a necessity in order to gain the employer’s respect and recognition. I am very proud of the support staff and their determination,” added Stéphane Caron.
SESSUS, CUPE Local 7498, represents approximately 1400 support staff, including some 120 working in research.