Thousands of blue-collar workers and union leaders will face severe penalties after they abandoned work to attend a union meeting in what has been labelled an illegal strike.
Despite being ordered to remain on the job by the Quebec government’s essential services council, approximately 2,400 Montreal workers attended a special general assembly called by the Canadian Union of Public Employee.
The workers’ current contract expires in December 2017 but, according to CUPE, the meeting was not held to discuss the current collective agreement but to address the pact between municipalities and the Quebec government signed earlier this year.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said yesterday that the workers chose to take part in the unsanctioned walk-out and would have been aware there would be consequences.
"I'm sorry, but a contract is a contract," Coderre said. "It's simply not acceptable."
In a letter to the city's general manager, labour relations director Danny Boudreault recommended suspensions ranging from six days to two months for workers, depending on their role in the walkout.
"We recommend severe sanctions to send a clear message to the union that the city will not be intimidated and will not accept illegal actions," the letter reads.
Union president Chantal Racette is among the worst affected – she, along with three others, will receive the stiffest penalty of two months suspension without pay.
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