Montreal’s 5,000 municipal blue-collar workers launched a rotating strike on January 25. Until March 5, the Syndicat des Cols bleus – which includes snow removal teams and garbage workers – will suspend services in a different borough each day. Ville-Marie was the first neighbourhood affected.
The union asserts that this form of rotating strike will only minimally impact the population.
The blue-collar workers have been without a contract since 2007.
Workers hope the city will meet certain demands, including a reduction in subcontracting to non-unionized workers. In a press release, Syndicat president Michel Parent criticized the municipality’s failure to protect union jobs.
“[This] shows the willingness of the administration to continue to sell our jobs to private enterprise,” he said in French.
The City said that it is willing to resolve this dispute through the courts. It stated that the union’s action will cost the City $35 million, and that it might influence other unions that have signed deals.
Parent, however, argued that the City is responsible for mishandling public services.
“The increase in the taxes of Montrealers serves to fatten a hierarchical structure that is incomparable to the rest of North America, as well as the exorbitant costs tied to the privatization of services, rather than to contribute to the improvement of services to the population by showing confidence in its blue-collar workers,” he said. “[The strike] should demonstrate, in itself, the inability of the municipal administration to run the city adequately.”