WESTMOUNT, QC, May 30, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Approximately 3000 workers in 38 private residences will be on strike today and tomorrow. They are protesting the impasse in the negotiation of the salary clauses of their collective agreements.
"On the first strike day on May 11, we launched an unprecedented movement, giving employers a serious warning. Unfortunately, only a few of them made any significant effort to move the negotiations along. Today and tomorrow, we will be giving them a second chance before we call an unlimited general strike.
If we do not reach satisfactory agreements that raise workers' wages to a minimum of $15 an hour, we will not hestitate to apply every one of our strike mandates," explained Richard Belhumeur, President of the Syndicat québécois des employées et employés de service (FTQ).
We can reach an agreement
Since the last strike day on May 11, workers at Résidence L'Image d'Outremont inc., Maison Mémoire du coeur (Saint-Charles-Borromée) and Domaine des Forges I (Laval) have reached agreements in principle with their employer.
Workers at Résidence Aviva (Quebec City) and Manoir le Sapinois (Pincourt), as well as those at Manoir Outremont, also accepted an agreement in principle at a general meeting of members.
At Château Westmount, negotiations are clearly at an impasse. The last formal offer made by management included average salary increases of 0.5% per year for five years, despite the fact that, after nine years of service, beneficiary attendants at the top of the scale are earning $13.67. "We find it hard to believe that the employer is not making enough money to close the wage gap. Residents pay between $4,000 and $7,000 a month in rent, and there are 101 units. With income like that, the employer is quite capable of recognizing the contribution of its personnel at its true value," lamented the President of the SQEES-FTQ.
The big players vs. workers
While Réseau Sélection is investing $2.5 billion to build new residences in Quebec and another $1 billion outside Quebec, while Groupe Maurice has six major projects under way at a cost of $1 billion, while Santé Sedna is a subsidiary of the French corporation DomusVi, whose sales figures are of the order of €600 million, while Cogir manages $3.5 billion in assets, and while Chartwell has a market capitalization of $2.6 billion, these groups are underpaying their employees and practically refusing to negotiate.
"The people responsible for the creation of such wealth should be able to benefit from the fruits of their labour. For example, the President and CEO of Chartwell earns $1.6 million a year, while a beneficiary attendant paid $11 an hour earns only $20,000. We don't think that $15 an hour is an outlandish demand. Workers deserve to be treated decently," said Richard Belhumeur.
The SQEES-FTQ represents 25 000 members throughout Quebec, most of them in the health and social services sector. It is the largest union in private seniors' residences. It is affiliated with the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, the largest union central in Quebec, with more than 600 000 members.
SOURCE Syndicat québécois des employées et employés de service
For further information: Benoit Hamilton, Communications Consultant, SQEES-FTQ, 514-347-9836