Technical staff demand new contract

Beginning in the wee hours of the morning last Wednesday, over 60 technical workers on Concordia’s downtown campus held a one-day strike to demand the renewal of their contract, which expired in 2008.
Lasting from 6 a.m. until about 1 p.m., the strike saw a group of workers including plumbers, electricians, and mechanics march around the Hall building and the nearby area. The employees, who are members of United Steel Workers local 9538, are demanding they receive pay conditions equivalent to what is found in other Montreal universities.
Local union representative Richard Boudreault said on Monday that he has yet to hear a response from the university regarding last week’s strike, and union members are still waiting for an “interesting offer” to be put on the table by the administration.
“For now, we would at least like to see them schedule a meeting with the conciliator,” said Boudreault. “We are ready to talk, but we’re not going to bring ourselves to our knees in front of the employer either.”
University spokesperson Chris Mota said that the request for a meeting with the conciliator has been made, and the university is still waiting to hear back.
“The university is ready to talk,” she said.
At the strike last Wednesday, plumber Jacky Renaud said he and his colleagues did not understand why the university has yet to renew the workers’ contract.
“We want to go forward, they want to go backwards,” said Renaud, who has worked at Concordia for the past five years.
Boudreault said members of his union remain deeply frustrated with the fact that while Concordia has yet to make an offer to the technical workers, the administration has doled out over $2 million in severance packages to senior administrators, including ousted presidents Claude Lajeunesse and Judith Woodsworth.
“It’s indecent that they can pay up to $2 million in severance packages, but yet they propose salaries to us that are inferior to what is offered at other Montreal universities,” he said.
Boudreault, who indicated that the technical workers have the support of students, faculty and technical workers on the Loyola campus, said that he will be meeting with other members of the union in the coming days to discuss what steps to take next. He said nothing is ruled out, including a strike that could last indefinitely.

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