The Struggle Goes On

Labour Board Finds in Favour of McGill on Replacement Workers

Photo Jacob Roberts

Quebec’s Labour Relations Board rejected an emergency stop-work order Oct. 4 requested by striking McGill University employees.

The union representing the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association had demanded the order in late September to prevent replacement workers hired to do their jobs from being allowed to work during the strike.

According to MUNACA’s VP Minister of Finance David Kalant, the Labour Relations Board commissioner did not think that it was an emergency.

“Looking very briefly at the evidence, [the replacement workers] didn’t seem illegal—at least the casual workers,” said Kalant.

“So that’s another reason [the commissioner] denied the emergency order,” continued Kalant. “Now McGill put this out as saying they’ve been cleared, which they haven’t, because we still have to have the full hearing with all the evidence, and dates have to be set for that. It’s not over yet.”

Anti-scab laws differ from province to province. In Quebec, the only people allowed to replace a striking employee are non-union workers already employed by the university who do the same type of work, or a person in a managerial position who has the power to hire and fire.

According to the report made by an inspector from the Commission des relations du travail, the scab workers seem to be illegal.

McGill allegedly has a number of low managers who are not true managers and are not allowed to do the work of a striking individual.

“There is apparently a quote in the report from ‘M,’ a low manager, who said, ‘Yes, I am doing the work of a MUNACA member,’” said Kalant. “That’s illegal and [they] said that to the inspector.”

Though a date has not been set, at the full hearing MUNACA plans to present their evidence for why the scab workers are infringing upon the labour law and McGill will present their counter-arguments.

According to McGill, the replacement workers are legally allowed to do the work they are doing and are therefore not scabs.

The injunction, which has restricted striking activities like picketing, has been extended until Jan. 21, when MUNACA expects a hearing of the case.

MUNACA has almost 1,700 workers who have been on strike since Sept. 1 to achieve wage parity with other Montreal universities, as well as improved pensions and benefits.