Last April 23, we learned that the City of Montreal would be cutting forecasted expenditures on average by 3.1% for all central services and in the 19 boroughs. It announced in the same breath that it would be asking all employees to pitch in with a $50 million contribution at a time when the City has a budget surplus of $251 million.

“Several questions have gone unanswered. The City informed us that it would be running a deficit of at least $105 million for the 2020 fiscal year. However, to date, it is refusing to cover this shortfall with the $251 million surplus. It’s inconceivable and unacceptable. It has some explaining to do,” said Stéphan Meloche, the administrator of the Syndicat des cols bleus regroupés de Montréal (CUPE 301).

The City stated that if it used this surplus, its credit rating would be adversely impacted. The union believes instead that its concerns about the credit rating should not take precedence over the well-being of its employees and their working conditions, not to mention the effect on services to citizens.

“Last week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities asked various levels of government for $10 billion in aid. Wouldn’t it be more respectful to await the developments of this particular process before attempting to cut services to the public and reduce the working conditions of its employees? And why do workers have to put up with such treatment,” added Hans Marotte, the union representative of CUPE 301.

Note that, since the outbreak of the crisis, Montreal blue-collar workers have been at work on the front lines, despite not having had a wage increase for 2½ years.

“Madam Mayor, we will not agree to foot the bill for that kind of management! Blue-collar workers are demanding more respect, which they unquestionably deserve,” said Stéphan Meloche.