This morning, the 1800 support employees at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) staged a huge demonstration in front of the management offices of the university before heading off to rally again at the Ministry of Education offices.
The event elicited massive support from numerous CUPE locals and the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), who turned out in large numbers to support them.
Based on the theme “UQAM, 50 ans de solidarité” (UQAM, 50 years of solidarity), the Syndicat des employées et employés de l’UQAM (SEUQAM) believes it was the largest interunion demonstration in the history of UQAM, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
“Since the beginning of our strike we called last September 3, I have noted remarkable support from various groups and associations around us. We believed the time had come to send a strong message to the Conseil du trésor and to the rector so that they understand how just our cause is and how determined we are,” declared Louisa Cordeiro, president of the SEUQAM.
Tension is continuing to mount as the support employees, who have been without a contract since May 31, 2017, have been attempting to negotiate a new collective agreement.
The negotiations, which began in the fall of 2018, have currently reached an impasse. According to the union, wages are the stumbling block.
“The employer’s last offer is not as good as the one they made last June. It was merely a financial gymnastics exercise. They did not show any flexibility to come up with a fair agreement, and the Conseil du trésor does not seem to be willing to provide UQAM with adequate funding, whereas we have made some progress. In the meantime, the support employees are still providing quality service to the university community, in spite of the fact they are underpaid and overworked,” said Ms. Cordeiro.
On July 3, UQAM support employees voted 93 per cent in favour of pressure tactics up to and including strike action. At a special meeting last week, they voted 73 per cent in favour of continuing the strike for an additional ten days.
A conciliation session between the employer and the SEQUAM bargaining committee is scheduled for 9:30 am tomorrow, September 13, at the Administrative Labour Tribunal offices. However, the union bargaining committee is not too hopeful about the outcome of that meeting.