McGill cleared of scab labour charges

MUNACA and administration head back to negotiating table today

McGill University was cleared of all allegations of using illegal replacement labour in a decision released by the Commission des Relations du Travail (CRT) on Tuesday.

The CRT report on illegal replacements, dated October 4, was issued after Ministry of Labour inspections at McGill found a number of cases in which workers were believed to be replacing McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) workers.

Ministry investigators were called into the University in late September after MUNACA received complaints of illegal replacements, and completed inspections accompanied by representatives from the union and McGill.

The CRT ruling named thirteen workers against whom MUNACA filed complaints.

“This was a very strange ruling,” said MUNACA Vice-President (Finance) David Kalant of the CRT decision.

“We’re going to take further legal action on this, we don’t think this is correct. For one thing, it seems to ignore some very clear evidence in the investigator’s report,” Kalant explained.

When the Ministry of Labour released its findings in late September, McGill disputed every case mentioned by the investigator.

“The Commissioner heard all the evidence on September 29 and took all evidence that was presented, verbally and in writing,” said McGill Vice-President (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa. “In every single case, the Commissioner sided with the University.”

Di Grappa cited cases of workers taking on the duties of employees who are not MUNACA members as an example of the type of complaints on which the CRT ruled.

As for future allegations, Kalant said that the union is “continuing to receive reports” of illegal replacement workers. “If we think there is enough evidence, yes, we will ask for an investigators to come back and look at more,” he continued.

Di Grappa also said that McGill is “looking forward to getting back to the [negotiation] table on Thursday, October 13, after almost two weeks of not being at the table.”

“At the onset of the conciliation process, the conciliator offered a number of dates. McGill said yes to every date that was proposed; the union did not,” Di Grappa explained.

“We are committed to resolving this at the table and finding a solution that’s fair and reflects the realities in which we live,” he said.

In an email to staff and students on October 12, Di Grappa said that the two-week hiatus on negotiations was “caused by the union’s inability to attend any sessions during that period.”

Later that day, MUNACA issued a statement on its website from President Kevin Whittaker stating that Di Grappa’s statement was false on two counts. “The negotiation schedule was decided on by taking into account the constraints of everyone – not just ours,” the statement read.

“We have made it clear to McGill University on several occasions that we would make ourselves available at any time if they are prepared to discuss any core issues at the heart of this conflict,” it continued.