Workers at the MRC de Manicouagan and at the Baie-Comeau Airport held a 24-hour strike. To mark the dismal day, workers decided to sport black armbands while picketing in front of the MRC offices in Baie‑Comeau.
“The MRC de Manicouagan and Baie-Comeau Airport’s unionized workers have mixed feelings. On one hand, they’re saddened by the situation since they’ve never lost a day of work due to conflict in more than 28 years of labour relations. But on the other hand, our members are proud to stand up against an employer who clearly has no respect for the workers,” said Charlaine Sirois, CUPE union representative and spokesperson for the negotiating committee.
The MRC’s workers have been without a labour contract since June 2010. All 18 workers voted in favour of the strike mandate in February 2011. Salaries are the main point of contention.
“It’s a question of pay equity. We know that in 2009, annual wage increases for management were set at 3.5 per cent per year for four years,” stated Charlaine Sirois. “The employer’s most recent offer to union members was closer to the tune of 1.8 per cent for five years. They’re trying to drive us below the poverty line considering the fact that the CPI has been closer to 3 per cent for the past year.”
“To make matters worse, they’re refusing to sit down and start negotiating. We’ve been waiting since September,” added the union representative. “Our backs were up against the wall. We really felt we had no other choice but to let people know how their elected officials are running their MRC.”
The MRC de Manicouagan consists of urban and rural municipalities, including Chutes-aux-Outardes, Ragueneau, Pointe-Lebel, Baie-Comeau, Godbout, Franquelin, Baie-Trinité, and Pointe-aux-Outardes. The MRC de Manicouagan also owns and operates the Baie-Comeau Airport.