Montréal’s white-collar workers’ union was on hand at the Super Méga Continental, a line dancing event organized to celebrate Montréal’s 375th anniversary, to unveil the very first mascot in the history of Québec created using a 3D printer.
“In this election year and year of celebration, I’m going to promise you one thing, and I am stating this firmly, clearly and officially: as in previous years, I pledge once again to break all of my promises,” guffawed the new Denis Coderre mascot.
The mascot is part of the campaign titled “Faisons la lumière sur nos horaires” (“Let’s Talk About Working Hours”) to highlight the administration’s lack of respect for the thousands of its employees who have seen a recent decline in their working conditions. By trying to remove from its vocabulary the notion of flexible scheduling for white-collar workers (CUPE 429), the City of Montréal is winding the clock back 40 years with regard to working conditions for thousands of people, the majority of them women.
“We had to take this opportunity to make an impression on people using the mascot in order to showcase the current administration’s incredible disrespect toward its own employees, the women and men who provide services to the citizens of Montréal,” explained Alain Fugère. “It is shameful behaviour. Let’s not forget that flexible scheduling costs taxpayers absolutely nothing.”
Although the latest collective agreement was clearly negotiated, the City’s interpretation of its terms is ludicrous. It also compromises the quality of life of the members of CUPE 429, many of whom depend on flexible scheduling to be able to look after their children or aging parents (work-family balance). It makes it possible for other workers to attend school, while some need it to manage illnesses or conditions requiring frequent medical appointments.
The white-collar workers of Montréal signed a new collective agreement in March 2016 following four years of negotiations and a strike. In it, the union agreed to a number of concessions in the interest of industrial peace. However, although the number of flex hours was reduced, there was never any suggestion of eliminating flexible scheduling or modifying its interpretation.