MONTREAL, June 21, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Nearly 3000 workers in 32 private residences have been on an unlimited strike since midnight last night. If workers in these residences are now on a general strike after their three days of strike in May, it is because employers are being intransigent and flatly closed to any decent increase in salaries. Employees' main demand is simple: a minimum of $15 an hour.
"Employers can't possibly be surprised at our salary demands. They've known about them for more than a year now. But many of them are still making ridiculous offers. Here at Résidence les Floralies de LaSalle, beneficiary attendants earn $12.55 at hiring and $13.28 at the top of the salary scale after four years. What we're being offered is $13.29 at hiring and $14.05 at the top of the scale in the third year of the collective agreement. Other employers are offering a 0% wage increase when employees are already earning little more than the minimum wage," says Richard Belhumeur, president of the Syndicat québécois des employées et employés de service (FTQ).
"Some 80% of the striking workers are women. No one is going to convince us that $15 an hour is too much for them," objected Daniel Boyer, president of the FTQ. "They are the ones who take care of the people who helped build Quebec. They are the ones who feed them. They are the ones who make sure they are safe and living in a clean environment. They deserve to be treated with as much dignity as they afford their residents. And that includes a decent salary that enables them to pay the rent, buy groceries, purchase clothing for their children, pay their bills, and have a little left over at the end of the month. If $15 an hour is too much, then these women are destined to remain in a precarious situation. The FTQ is offering its unconditional support to these workers, who are asking only for consideration and respect."
Workers on the verge of reaching agreements in principle
Since the strike days on May 11, 30 and 31, agreements in principle have been reached with several employers. We have achieved our objective of $15 an hour. The SQEES-FTQ would like to honour the following employers, who were smart enough to respect the employees who contribute to their success: Résidence Aviva (Quebec City), Manoir Outremont, L'Image d'Outremont, Domaine des Forges I (Laval), Domaine des Forges II (Laval), Manoir le Sapinois (Pincourt), Résidence l'Étincelle (Sainte-Thérèse), Résidence du Marché (Sainte-Thérèse), Résidence du Bonheur (Laval) and, yesterday, Résidence Alto (Ville Saint-Laurent).
"If independent residences and some members of the larger groups can afford salaries of $15 an hour, we believe that all employers in the sector, in particular the larger ones such as Chartwell Group, can. The consensus is clear, not only among SQEES-FTQ members but among the public in general: we need to pay workers in seniors' residences more," said Richard Belhumeur.
"Not only does the FTQ support the members of the SQEES who are on strike, but we believe that a minimum of $15 an hour will ensure all workers a decent wage. That is why the FTQ launched the "Minimum $15" campaign. In our opinion, workers in private seniors' residences are paving the way, demonstrating that a minimum of $15 an hour is possible," said Daniel Boyer, president of the FTQ.
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, section locale 298 (FTQ)
For further information: Benoit Hamilton, Communications Consultant, SQEES-FTQ, 514-347-9836; Jean Laverdière, FTQ, 514-893-7809