Concordia University Technical Support Employees Vote to Strike



    MONTREAL, Aug. 31 /CNW Telbec/ - Concordia University technical support
employees, at a general meeting held last night, mandated their executive
committee to undertake job actions, short of declaring an unlimited general
strike at the University.
    95% of the 75 CSN Union members in attendance (out of a total membership
of 95) voted, by secret ballot, in favour of the strike. A conciliation
meeting took place this morning between the Union's representatives and
management spokespeople in an attempt to break the impasse. Working without a
contract for five years now, the workers seek to reach a satisfactory
settlement before students return on September 4.
    The employees notably include electronics technicians, laboratory
technicians, computer technicians and machinists. Their last salary increase
dates back to June 1, 2002. They're asking for a 4.75% increase in the first
year of the agreement followed by 4% increases for each of the following
years. Their demands mirror the wage settlements recently reached between the
University and other groups of employees. The technicians currently earn
salaries ranging from $36,000 to $45,000 a year. The other key issue in these
negotiations for the employees involves access to an early retirement program
at 55 years old, which most employees of the institution already enjoy.
    Meanwhile, the University is offering its technicians a paltry 1.75%
increase for the first year of the contract, followed by 2.5% increases for
each of the following years. The University has indicated that it is amenable
to slightly improving its offers, but is adamant in demanding, in exchange,
major concessions with regard to time off for union business, as well as staff
movement where it wishes to exercise unfettered control.
    For the Union's President, René Lalonde, there's no doubt that his
colleagues have been extremely patient to date. "We didn't think things would
end up like this, he says disparagingly. People are fed up. We haven't had a
salary increase since June 2002! Our demands are reasonable, if you compare
them to what other employees are earning and especially to what university
administrators are being paid," he explains.
    The Concordia University Support Staff Union - Technical Sector (CSN) has
been certified since 1987 and has never been involved in a labour dispute, to
date.
    It should be recalled that another CSN Union, representing 454 support
staff, already has a mandate to initiate job actions including three one-day
strikes. They have exercised two of them so far.

    Founded in 1921, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux today counts
more than 300,000 members in all economic sectors.




For further information:

For further information: Jean-Pierre Larche, CSN Communications
Department, (514) 598-2264; Source: Confédération des syndicats nationaux


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