Labour relations pressure has just been brought down several notches at the INRS – Centre Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie, where a majority of employees have ratified the tentative agreement that management and their union reached on July 13, 2023.

At a special general meeting last August 31, the 68 members in attendance voted 78% in favour of the agreement. The collective agreement covering the 92 members consisting of office employees, tradespersons, professionals and technical personnel expired on May 31, 2022.

The employer and the union began talks in November 2022. However, the employer left the bargaining table after a few meetings in March 2023. Tensions were running high, and members were becoming increasingly unhappy with the disrespect that management was showing them. In fact, the employers overwhelmingly voted for pressure tactics up to and including strike action.

In spite of the difficult atmosphere, intensive negotiations began on July 11. Late in the day on July 13, an agreement deemed satisfactory by both parties was reached.

The new contract calls for wage hikes between 11 and 14.75% over five years for all job classifications. Moreover, floating holidays were added, and employees can now defer or be paid for up to 20 vacation days. A pilot project on a four-day work week was also negotiated.

“Our members’ bedrock solidarity is what we will take away from these negotiations. Meanwhile, the outcome is pretty much in line with the vote they expressed and shows that much remains to be done by the employer,” said Martin Pellerin, president of the union representing support employees of the INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, SESIAF CUPE 1733.

“In a nutshell, it’s an agreement we could recommend. However, the employer must do more to resolve problems relating to excessive workload, resource shortages, poor work organization and the lack of recognition for work done,” added CUPE union representative Richard Quesnel.