After almost three years without a collective agreement, blue-collar workers in Sherbrooke, Quebec, filed a strike notice with the Essential Services Council on December 8. The general strike could begin on December 26 at 12:01 a.m. and end on January 7 at 11:59 p.m. In accordance with the law, and to protect the health and safety of the population, a list of the services to be maintained was submitted to the Council.
“We have 19 days until December 26. So there’s still time for conciliation and negotiation. The offer made by the City in October was overwhelmingly rejected by our members. We need a new fresh start. We hope that the City will be more flexible in order to resolve the deadlock,” said Michel Murray, an adviser with the Sherbrooke union.
At a general meeting on November 12, the workers examined the most recent offer from the City and rejected it by 97 per cent. They then submitted a compromise offer that included a letter of agreement guaranteeing that the Canada Games would be held without disturbance. The City rejected their offer on November 23.
Last spring, the workers voted 98 per cent for a mandate to strike, at the appropriate time. They have been working without a contract since December 31, 2007.
The approximately 400 Sherbrooke blue-collar workers are members of CUPE 2729. They work on the City’s roads, aqueducts and sewers, garbage collection, maintenance and signage, and in recreation centres, parks and ecocentres. They also include engineers, building engineers, arboriculturists, horticulturists and others.