McGill University using replacement workers: report

Union hopes to end illegal practice by submitting report to Quebec Labour Board
||Last Updated: 09/26/2011

A report by the Quebec Ministry of Labour says that McGill University is employing replacement staff to do the work of some of its striking workers. On Sept. 26, 2011, the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA), which represents the 1,600 striking non-academic employees, filed the report with the Quebec Labour Board. The board can fine the institution if found guilty of the accusation.

Quebec is one of two provinces, along with British Columbia, that designate the use of replacement workers as illegal.

“Shame on McGill,” says Quebec Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC-Quebec) regional executive vice-president Jérôme Turcq. “Instead of trying to circumvent the Labour Code, the University should be striving to negotiate a fair collective agreement with its employees."

MUNACA staff are members of PSAC-Québec.

An investigator was sent to the university after the Ministry received 57 complaints from MUNACA. As a result of the inquiry, the investigator found that 15 of the 110 workers conducting work normally done by the striking staff were not managers or otherwise eligible to complete the work.

Michael Di Grappa, vice-principal at McGill, told the Montreal Gazette that the university disputes the findings, insisting that some workers cited in the report are casual workers hired before the strike. He also points out that the report is not a definitive legal finding and that only the Quebec Labour Board can make a final determination as to whether or not the law is being broken.

“If the board holds a hearing to this report, McGill will make its positions extremely clear,” Di Grappa told the paper. “All the contingency actions taken to keep the university operating in its core mission of teaching and research during the MUNACA strike are fully within the law.”

Conciliation talks resume between the parties on Sept. 26, 2011. The union is demanding that the agreement include a clause that provides employees who have seniority an advantage over new hires in filling posts. It is also looking to secure higher wages for its members. According to the union, it can take a McGill non-academic worker 37 years to reach the maximum pay rate, while counterparts at the Université de Montréal and the Université du Québec à Montréal reach the maximum within 15 years.

MUNACA members at McGill University in Montreal, Que. have been on strike since Sept. 1, 2011.

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