A strike is imminent for the workers of the municipality of Pontiac

The Teamsters Union is trying to make concessions and prevent a strike, but the municipality of Pontiac is improvising and making it next to impossible to reach a settlement...

LAVAL, QC, April 8 /CNW Telbec/ - The negotiations aimed at renewing the collective agreement covering some 20 or so workers of the municipality of Pontiac are at a standstill.

Indeed, the agreement, expired since December 31, 2008, has yet to be renegotiated to the satisfaction of the blue- and white-collar workers of this municipality of 5,000 inhabitants located just west of the city of Gatineau. Despite the many issues in dispute, a settlement remains possible as long as the employer's bargaining committee is committed to discussing in good faith.

"We have been bargaining for 17 long months now, and we blame the employer's improvisation in this case," states with indignation Jean Chartrand, president of Teamsters Local Union 106, which represents the workers of the municipality of Pontiac. "We have made concessions, but the municipality keeps coming back to the table with other ridiculous demands."

For example, the parties had reached an agreement on sick days, but the bargaining committee returned soon after to demand changes that had never been requested by either the union or the municipality.

Several other non-monetary clauses are at issue, namely with respect to statutory and flexible leave. The Teamsters Union is demanding an increase of 2.1% per year on a 5-year contract.

Members of the municipal council have waged a political war which would appear to be at the origin of this difficult bargaining process. The employer's representatives have no real power and must constantly consult the municipal council-which causes delays, confusion and impromptu demands.

The conciliator appointed in July 2009 has called a meeting for April 9 and 12.

"This is a make-it-or-break-it meeting," explains Mr. Chartrand. "The employer has demonstrated an unacceptable level of disregard toward the workers involved."

At a March 23 meeting, the workers gave their union a strike mandate.

The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada in all trades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

SOURCE Teamsters Canada

For further information: For further information: Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Communications, Teamsters Canada, (514) 609-5101; www.teamsters.ca/en/news/1383/

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