The 1800 support employees of the Université du Québec à Montréal who have been without a collective agreement since May 31, 2017, have just given their union leaders a strike mandate to be used when the timing is right.

The 668 members who attended the special union meeting this morning voted 93% in favour of a strike. According to the union, in spite of notable progress on normative issues, UQAM representatives showed no willingness to move during the negotiations of wage conditions.

“We are quite disappointed. The senior management of UQAM clearly showed a lack of respect for its staff that has been working feverishly to maintain service of exceptional quality in spite of continuous cuts. Without its employees, UQAM would not exist,” claimed Louisa Cordeiro, president of SEUQAM.

The negotiations, which began in the fall of 2018, have currently reached an impasse. For 2019 to 2025, the employer has been offering wage increases pegged to the government salary policy (GSP), the wage rate negotiated for the public and parapublic sectors by the government and the union, which is not yet known.

The offer to union employees is less than that obtained by other employees in the Quebec university sector, which UQAM support employees have deemed unacceptable.

“The union has made considerable efforts, but the employer is hoping to sign a long contract, while proposing an unacceptable wage offer. We would like to keep peace in the industry, but accepting such an offer is unthinkable,” said CUPE representative Julie Brault.

The general meeting wrapped up with a spontaneous demonstration that took place on St. Denis Street in front of the UQAM executive offices. The membership clearly showed their discontent and their solidarity in wake of this new hardship. On the eve of its 50th anniversary, the environment at UQAM may be quite turbulent the next time students go back to school.