QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 23, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - More than 3,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) demonstrated this afternoon to send a message of support to Quebec City blue collar workers who have been working without a contract for nearly three years.
"The attacks on Quebec City blue collar workers are an attack on each and every CUPE member across the province and across Canada," said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. "Our message to Mayor Labeaume is the same one to every mayor, councillor and premier across Canada and to the Prime Minister - respect workers, and respect our right to collective bargaining."
"We are demonstrating at the National Assembly, and not at City Hall, because instead of sitting down at the negotiating table, this employer asks the government to solve their problems," said Charles Fleury, national secretary-treasurer of CUPE. "Until now, the government has refused, and rightly so."
CUPE-Québec President Lucie Levasseur denounced "the particularly vicious attacks by Mayor Labeaume, who decided to break off negotiations and run his electoral campaign on the backs of the city employees."
After thanking the crowd, the Acting President of the Quebec City blue-collar union, Daniel Simard, said: "The blue collar workers are currently victims of an intense smear campaign by the mayor of Quebec." He decried the resulting toxic work environment for all the workers he represents.
The majority of demonstrators this afternoon are delegates to the CUPE National Convention, currently taking place in Quebec City. Over the last few days, they have witnessed the Mayor's arrogance and intransigence towards the City's employees.
There are 1,100 blue collar workers in Quebec City. Their collective agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2010.
Negotiations between Quebec City and its blue collar workers began in February 2011. Since then, labour and management have held 40 bargaining meetings, including 31 in the presence of a mediator appointed by the Ministry of Labour. From May 24 to Dec. 21, 2012, the blue collar workers took job action and refused to work overtime. Previously, they had not exercised the right to strike for more than 25 years.
CUPE is the largest union in Canada. It has over 627,000 members across Canada, including more than 111,000 in Quebec. This year, CUPE is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Its national convention is being held at the Quebec City Convention Centre from Oct. 21 to 25, 2013.
SOURCE: Canadian Union of Public Employees (FTQ)
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