LABOUR BRIEFS (December 4, 2000)

Montreal — Quebec’s longshoremen’s union says it will sue two police departments unless allegations that its members are linked to organized crime are retracted. The Syndicat des Debardeurs du Port de Montreal has warned the RCMP and Montreal Urban Community Police in writing, demanding they retract earlier statements made that connect its members to gangs and organized crime. The issue follows two recent drug seizures smuggled through the port and a RCMP investigation that found that people with ties to organized crime groups were working at the port. Police also said that during an eight-month investigation they monitored a ring of 10 port employees who were stealing goods and helping facilitate the entry of drugs. No union members have been arrested in connection to the seizures.
Toronto, Hamilton — Teachers looking for new contracts in Ontario continue to fight pitched battles with the provincial government. Elementary teachers with the York Region District School Board, near Toronto, will no longer attend any after- or before-school meetings, order supplies or fill out report cards — activities they say they do voluntarily. The teachers are in a legal strike position but chose the job action instead, after the board offered a six per-cent pay hike over three years while the union is demanding a one-year deal and a 3.9 per-cent increase. Meanwhile, Hamilton public elementary teachers continuing their month-long strike. Education Minister Janet Ecker is willing to draft back-to-work legislation that would return the Hamilton teachers and 40,000 children to their classrooms. The legislation would force the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to lift its lockout, returning 2,300 teachers to work.
Montreal — Unions, mounting a campaign against a new law that would suspend the rights of unionized workers to strike for 15 months after a municipal merger, have taken their protests against the Quebec government right to the doorsteps of politicians and advisors. Last month, about 600 municipal workers marched and chanted on the doorstep of Louis Bernard’s home, a government advisor and author of a recent report on municipal reform. Workers plan to make more “home visits” in the coming months. “We will be visiting more and more interesting personalities,” said Jean Lapierre, Montreal Urban Community blue-collar leader. The legislation, which provides the framework for municipal mergers across the province, also suspends the right of non-unionized workers in a municipality to unionize for 60 days after an amalgamation.
Labour upset in Canada’s newest territory
Iqaluit, Nunavut — Government workers in Canada’s newest territory have voted to take strike action, including a general strike, if negotiations with their employer fail. A majority of the 1,300 government employees and members of the Nunavut Employees Union, a unit of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, voted for a strike mandate before going back to the negotiation table. Issues in negotiation include the Nunavut Equalization Allowance, vacation travel assistance and wages.
Vancouver — A year of on-again-off-again negotiations between ambulance paramedics and the British Columbia government has ended with a tentative agreement. “We were able to achieve most of our concerns addressed without withholding our services from the public,” said John Strohmaier, president of Local 873 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Paramedics were operating on a work-to-rule basis and had refused paperwork. Issues surrounding the dispute between the 3,500 ambulance paramedics and ambulance services included training, hours of work and on-call pay for part-time paramedics.
Toronto — An international pilots’ union wants to win the right to represent the new Air Canada’s 3,600 pilots. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest pilots’ union in the world, has launched a campaign to win the right to represent the pilots. ALPA currently represents the 1,200 pilots from Canadian Airlines, while 2,400 Air Canada pilots are represented by the Canadian Airline Pilots Association. The merger of the two airlines means pilots will have to vote to decide which union has the right to represent them. The Canadian Industrial Relations Board will be setting a vote date.

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