Last March 29, the Plante administration took the opportunity afforded by a public meeting of the Commission sur le développement social et la diversité montréalaise and the Commission de la sécurité publique to disclose its 12 commitments for 2022 to promote social inclusion.
The Syndicat des Cols bleus regroupés de Montréal was very pleased with these commitments. However, the City of Montreal did not act on any of them, which would have rectified a large number of injustices both past and present. Several management decisions are based on stereotypes that drive a wedge between workers.
In May 2021, two reports that were ordered following complaints from several outside workers in Montreal-North clearly established that management methods dating back decades had resulted in systemic racism and created injustices that affect many even today.
Moreover, union representatives noted that some improper practices in the borough of Montreal-North that also come up were occurring in all City of Montreal workplaces.
Instead of seeking a settlement and attempting to rectify situations, the employer persists in continuing these discriminatory practices that affect its employees. By opting for the arbitration process, which results in significant costs to its citizens, the City is clearly showing a lack of sensitivity, and its recognition of the facts was merely a smokescreen. To date, no concrete actions have been taken.
Ageism, handicaps and mental health
The union has also spoken out against other insidious forms of discrimination, which affect, in particular, older workers or those with a disability. For example, some have no chance of obtaining disability insurance benefits, even though this is covered in the collective agreement. As a result, these employees are often shuffled off to retirement.
Moreover, all mental health cases are not handled with the level of sensitivity these types of cases require.
“Some people end up being administratively dismissed when in distress. No mechanisms have been established to prevent and allow for organizational accommodation to help them. And yet, it’s the citizenry’s responsibility to protect its weakest,” added Luc Bisson, president of the Syndicat des cols bleus regroupés de Montréal.
The union also made reference to one case of discrimination involving its members employed at a Dorval treatment plant. The issue in this instance relates to the City’s refusal to extend to them the same pension plan benefits that other City employees are entitled to. For more than eight years, these workers have been hoping for a settlement that would enable them to have a decent retirement.
“There are solutions to all of these situations. All we’re asking the City to do is resolve all of the racism and discrimination problems, which are undermining the working atmosphere and the well-being of too many city workers,” said Bisson.