September 8, 2014
The Fight of Quebec Municipal
Their Right to a Secure Pension
Blame the Government and Not the
Workers for Criminal Behaviour!
Municipal Workers' Pensions
September 20 -- 12:00 noon
Parc Lafontaine (corner of Sherbrooke and Parc La Fontaine)
Coalition syndicale pour la libre négociation
a Secure Pension
• Blame the Government and Not the
Workers for Criminal Behaviour! - Forum ouvrier
to Wreck Pensions -
Federal Public Service
• The Fight of Public Servants to
Defend Their Rights - Louis Lang
Thunder Bay Bombardier
Workers Holding On Against Extortion
• Our Strike Is About the Future of
the Union - Interview, Dominic Pasqualino, President,
The Fight of Quebec Municipal Workers
for Their Right to a Secure Pension
Blame the Government and Not the Workers for
Demonstration of municipal
workers at the Quebec National Assembly against Couillard government's
Loi 3 which attacks their right to a secure retirement, August 20, 2014.
The following editorial is taken from the September
issue of Forum ouvrier,
a magazine published by the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec.
No to the
criminalization of municipal workers!
All out to defend the right to security in retirement!
The real criminals -- those who steal pensions to pay the rich and
establish and defend the government's fraudulent accounting!
Forum ouvrier unequivocally denounces the
government's criminalization of municipal workers. According to the
Premier, workers are thugs if they use methods he
does not approve of to make themselves heard. He says only those who
institutions and harmonious,
civilized and peaceful processes deserve to be heard; others deserve to
be penalized. This is of course where the fraud lies because he does
not listen to anyone whose views he disagrees with, no matter how they
Who is being uncivil? First
the government announced it will enact a
bill that excludes pensions from city employees' collective bargaining.
Then the government and municipalities denounced each of the workers'
protests as "uncivilized" and waged a campaign against them in the
monopoly-owned media. When
municipal workers went to Montreal City Hall on August 18 to be heard,
they were blocked and then criminalized. It was after that
demonstration 44 criminal charges were brought against participants for
mischief, assault and unlawful assembly. In addition the city has
ordered disciplinary investigations against 63
individuals. This includes suspensions without pay for 39 of them
because they refused to attack their colleagues whom the city council
refused to hear!
Where is the civility in
that, Mr. Couillard? Once the
unilaterally destroyed the social contract with workers and eliminated
what is called the civilized way to communicate and negotiate, it must
bear the responsibility for the anarchy that follows and the violence
that goes with it. Today the theft
of pensions is done in broad daylight and then the government cuts off
all channels of communication. To stop what the government calls
violence, it has to stop its own anarchic conduct and impunity.
Democratic institutions can operate only when people can
their own eyes that a rule of law is respected which guarantees a
notion of fairness and justice acceptable to the body politic. Once the
government becomes arbitrary and acts with impunity, with false
justifications for its unacceptable actions,
it becomes responsible for the failure to respect democratic
institutions and the rule of law.
Just as the Charest government refused to listen to the
their proposals for alternatives in 2012, so too the Couillard
government has introduced fraudulent accounting to steal pensions and
does everything in its power to suppress the municipal workers. This
refusal to act in a civilized manner hides
the seizure of public funds to pay the rich and the fact that the
Couillard government is not interested in solving any of the problems
society faces. This is the problem that must be addressed, not that
workers should submit to an abstract notion of "civility" that does not
allow them to express themselves. When they
try to go through the democratic institutions, such as city council,
they are blocked. When frustrations erupt, they are criminalized. It
could not be clearer that the government wants to impose the dictate
"Resist and you will get nothing." It must not pass! The truth is
that without resistance, the workers will
end up with nothing!
Couillard's discourse on civility is fraud pure and
ignores anyone opposed to the sell-out of Quebec's resources to private
interests. Meanwhile, the use of state force remains the main weapon of
the democratic institutions when workers defend their rights and the
rights of all. This is the very same
Philippe Couillard who demands submission to civilized methods that put
the infamous Arthur Porter in charge of the McGill mega-hospital
project where the latter stole large sums of public money, which he had
already done in Detroit. Is this what is meant by civilized? It seems
to be, since both men have been
protected by the law.
The real crime is that the present democratic
governments and private interests to steal the workers' retirement
funds. Recall the loss of billions of dollars through adventurist
investments by the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du
Québec, one of the
biggest repositories of pension funds in Canada.
A handful of crooks pocketed all that money through sleight of hand,
but that is not considered a crime. It is "business as usual." But when
workers are pushed to the limit and have had enough, who will hold Mr.
Couillard and company to account? On the contrary, it is the workers
who are criminalized. That is what
blames the government of Quebec and the municipalities
for this situation. Where is the law that protects city workers against
the theft of their pensions? Who is stealing them and for what purpose?
No to the
Criminalization of Municipal Workers!
All Out to Defend their Just Cause Against the Theft of their
All Out for the September 20 demonstrations in Montreal to Demand the
Withdrawal of Bill 3!
Demonstration outside the
Quebec National Assembly, May 21, 2014.
Couillard Government's Bill 3 --
Legislated Extortion to Wreck Pensions
Bill 3, An Act to foster the financial health and
sustainability of municipal defined benefit pension plans
is a direct attack against workers and society as a whole. The
government should immediately withdraw the bill and uphold the right of
all to security in retirement.
The Couillard government tabled the bill on June 12 and
currently undergoing special consultations and public hearings in the
Committee on Planning and the Public Domain.
Main Features of the Bill
The bill removes questions
related to municipal employee pensions from the bargaining table. It
sets 50-50 contribution rates for upcoming pensions and bans any
automatic indexing. It breaks existing contracts and requires workers
and retirees to pay 50 per cent of predicted
actuarial deficits, which were the municipalities' responsibility.
Workers will have to pay these deficits with benefits already received.
For retirees, the bill allows municipalities to cancel indexing
of their pensions and use that money to pay off the deficits.
The bill imposes "good faith bargaining" which consists
determining what pension benefits will be cut and also permits unions
to sacrifice other benefits acquired in the collective agreement, such
as salaries and paid leave, to return to a 60-40 split (60 per cent for
municipalities, 40 per cent for workers). This
is what is called "room for negotiation" and the Minister of Municipal
Affairs, Pierre Moreau, was pleased to announce that people had
forgotten that they would be able to reduce the deficit to a 60-40
split. The bill establishes a restructuring process providing a
"negotiation" period of one year, with a one-time extension
of three months. The parties may resort to conciliation and in case
negotiations fail, the Minister may appoint an
arbitrator to settle the dispute, who has six months to take a decision.
Rally outside city hall in Montreal, June 17, against the planned
municipal workers' pension plans.
It is important to note that Bill 3 has not yet been
adopted, but it is
already being applied. It applies retroactively from the date it was
tabled in the National Assembly, June 12. If adopted, those who have
retired after June 12 will be considered active workers -- pension
contributors -- not retirees. Those who retire
now and are entitled to certain benefits with their pension could lose
them in addition to losing their indexation. That's why about 80
firefighters from Montreal retired the same day the bill was filed, in
order to safeguard against these changes.
Extortion and Embezzlement
This law will, among other
things, impoverish seniors by ending the indexation of their pensions.
If this passes, what then prevents the Pension Board from cutting or
deducting the indexation of those receiving a Quebec pension? The
federal government has already
gradually pushed the retirement age to 67 years instead 65 without
invoking any reason of financial difficulty whatsoever. The Quebec
government, with its Pension Board, for its part increased the
penalties for those who take their pension at age 60.
With Bill 3, the government is removing something
counted on by
pensioners whose fixed income makes them vulnerable to the rising cost
of living. There is no question that smashing negotiations on the issue
of pensions is opening the door to attack seniors everywhere. Which
seniors are next on the list?
This general offensive against pension plans also raises
question: what is considered negotiable? What position are the workers
in when pension plans are removed from the scope of collective
bargaining? Workers no longer have the right to submit demands to the
bargaining table, such as the demand that
the employer contributes more to pensions.
The government claims it is acting according to
to pay, but taxpayers also become retirees at some point. With this
argument, the government is also trying to wash its hands of the loss
of billions of dollars through the reckless investment of the workers'
pension funds. A handful of financial
industry crooks pocketed all that money with smoke and mirrors.
It is important to understand that we are dealing with a
diversion of monies from the pension funds. Not only with the
contribution holidays municipalities took in the past, but also with
the example of Quebec City where surplus funds were used to lower the
tax bill for taxpayers. That money is no longer
in an account and is no longer producing anything. La Caisse de
et placement du Québec receives funds from several pension
Quebec Pension Board (20 per cent of its funds) and the provincial
government employees' pension fund (RREGOP) (50 per cent of its funds),
together account for more
than 70 per cent of the Caisse's deposits, which as of June 30 are
worth $214 billion.
This summer, the Caisse was allowed to increase its
proportion of overseas investments.
On June 2, Director of the Caisse Michael Sabia said he
pension and insurance resources used to speculate on the market abroad
in the service of large companies to help them play on the world
market. He said, "It is our responsibility, our duty to become a global
organization capable of getting
returns where they exist and serving as a bridge between the Quebec
economy and the world."
In 2008, tens of billions of dollars of investments in
paper went up in smoke, of which the Caisse was one of the biggest
buyers. The government has not seen fit to protect the retirement
savings of millions of Quebeckers (not just union members but all those
who contribute to the Quebec Pension
Plan for example). The government increasingly intervenes to serve as a
bridge for companies to the global market by handing over all of our
resources, including monies from retirement funds. These defenders of
taxpayers and equity are the very people who created the crisis, who
now create drama to try to profit
from the trouble they have caused.
If one considers the municipalities' logic, one can see
municipal mergers served to consolidate the physical, human and
financial resources. The cities become significant hubs to attract big
business. Cuts in retirement benefits and workers paying higher
premiums releases enormous amounts of funds, which
are made available to the monopolies. Mr. Sabia said that we need to
further internationalize the Quebec economy, which is done with major
players, not small fry.
The municipal workers' struggle is important and
support it. Workers know that the public sector workers and Quebec
government employees will be the next to be attacked.
All Out for Security
in Retirement! Hand Off Pensions!
Federal Public Service
The Fight of Public Servants to Defend Their Rights
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) which
bargaining units with over 100,000 members has recently filed an unfair
labour practice complaint in response to the unilateral actions of the
Treasury Board of Canada to "claw back sick leave benefits from
employees." PSAC contends that
Treasury Board has been sending misleading communications to public
service workers while the two sides are in negotiations announcing its
intention to impose a Short Term Disability scheme to replace the
present provisions of the contract which provide a system of paid sick
The PSAC complaint alleges that the Treasury Board is
duty to bargain in good faith and that their actions "constitute
interference with PSAC's representation employees contrary to the Public
PSAC is demanding that Treasury Board discuss all issues
the contract at the bargaining table which they have failed to do since
negotiations began on July 7.
There have been several bargaining sessions since then
negotiations have now been adjourned and are set to resume in September.
In a recent report to members on negotiations PSAC
pointed out that
Treasury Board did table "an insulting wage proposal of 0.5 per cent
for four years." This amounts to a wage cut when inflation is factored
The Harper government has been preparing this attack
over 100,000 public service workers since 2011 and 2012 when it used
brutal back-to-work legislation to intimidate postal workers into
accepting a "collective agreement" with many roll-backs including the
replacement of sick leave benefits
with a short term disability plan (STD).
Attacks by Canada Post on its workers' right to sick
2008 against workers organized in PSAC and in 2011 against workers
organized in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
It is clear that there is a financial advantage for
to eliminate the right of sick leave benefits because the overall value
of the wages and benefits that the workers have won through
negotiations is reduced. But this attack of the Harper conservatives is
much more insidious. Through the STD,
Harper has introduced the privatization of the management of the
disability plan, contracting it out to huge multi-national insurance
companies. This eliminates the raison d'etre
for sick leave benefits which was to protect workers from loss of
earnings when they were incapacitated due to illness
because it eliminates the responsibility of the employer to uphold
their responsibility to the workers. Under the STD workers are forced
to justify their illness to some outside entity. All avenues for
redress in case of unjust treatment, like the grievance procedure are
eliminated and approval of disability benefits
is completely at the discretion of the "Disability Management Provider."
In the case of the postal workers for instance, Manulife
is the "Disability Management Provider." Article 20.15 of the CUPW
contract states as follows:
"Any decisions made by the Disability Management
Provider and the
independent medical physician are not subject to the grievance
procedure in the collective agreement."
Clearly the intent of the STD imposed by the Harper
not only aimed at imposing further financial hardship on workers who
are unable to work due to illness, but it is also intended to humiliate
and subject workers to an insulting "appeals procedure," in which the
private insurance monopoly
is the sole arbiter and the workers are forced to provide private and
confidential medical information, and whatever is demanded of
them to justify their illness. The STD and the way it has functioned
for postal workers and others fails to fully protect the wages of
workers when they are ill and it is a
direct attack on the dignity of the workers.
PSAC and all its bargaining units have declared that
they will not
give up their sick leave benefits. PSAC recently stated, "The
Conservative government wants to strip away sick leave rights and is
planning to contract out the management of the sick leave system. We
say that unless this government wants to
talk about improving what we already have, we aren't interested!"
Federal public service workers deserve the support of
workers in this important battle to defend their rights against the
attacks of the Harper government.
Thunder Bay Bombardier Workers Holding On
Our Strike Is About the Future of the Union
plant builds vehicles for the TTC.
The Bombardier workers in Thunder Bay have been on
strike since July 14. You had a vote on the company offer on August
26. Can you tell us how it went?
That vote was set by the government. Basically, the company
forced a vote.
The company's offer was rejected
by 80 per cent of the workers who were there. We had 751 people who
we have about 900 in the membership. I would say that the ones that did
not vote are
people who have already gotten work at other places or were out of town
that day. Everybody knew about the vote. The company had sent out a
package with their offer to all the members. There was a huge campaign
by the company -- they had radio ads, full-page newspaper ads
that the workers
should accept the offer. They went out and they had a letter from
management saying to accept the offer, that it is going to be a cold
winter, you do not want to be out in the winter, your kids will be
have no clothes for school. The other thing is that when they
delivered these they actually delivered them by
courier or by taxi to every member -- 900 of those packages went out.
some of the places they delivered to are 30 to 40 miles away. They had
lots of money for this stuff that is for sure. The company said that
that was going to be their last offer regardless but what I heard
today is that the talks are scheduled to
resume on Tuesday, September 2.
half of the membership. They are also
upset at the attempt by the
company to impose a reduced pension plan for newer employees. All new
employees will no longer
have a defined benefit pension plan, but a defined contribution plan.
We're looking at a two tier-pension system and for us this is totally
unacceptable. Our members are also upset at how aggressive the company
is. They feel that if they are doing this now when the plant is full --
they have $3 billion worth of
work in the plant -- then what is going to happen three years from now
we are negotiating again and maybe the plant will be operating at lower
We are also upset at how much work they are sending off
to Mexico as
well. Throughout the past couple of years, they have been contracting
more and more work out to Mexico. For example, the GO Train frames used
to be built here in Thunder Bay and now they are being built in Mexico.
There are doors
that are being built in China that we used to build here in the plant.
It seems that whenever they can find ways of outsourcing work to other
countries they have been doing that. That is also an issue with the
strike but it is a difficult one, it is hard to see how we are going to
find a solution to that.
The local media have been quoting company representatives saying
that Bombardier is getting ready to make "tough necessary
now that their offer has been rejected. What do you expect will happen?
guess we will find out soon. Are they planning now
that we have rejected their offer to move more product to Mexico? I
don't know. It will depend on how much resistance the membership will
give and how much the Ontario government and the Toronto Transit
Commission will give. [The TTC is one
of the biggest customers of
WF Editor's Note.]
As far as we are concerned, the main issue amounts to
benefits. Those are the biggest factors. We are not asking for a huge
increase. We do not believe that our children should be sacrificed for
more money for our people now. We are a union that understands that if
you do that you are
dividing the unity amongst the members. We feel that our fight is about
the future of our union.
have been going down to Toronto. We have been
talking to the customers and telling them some of the things that are
going on here in the plant. We are telling them that the company is
managers work on the cars. We don't feel that they are qualified to
work on the cars, certainly they
don't have the experience that our members have. We are telling them
that there are going to be excessive delays because even if management
does our jobs with some level of quality, which they are not, then
there are going to be delays because certainly they can't do it as
we would do it. We
think that this is an issue that the customers should be dealing with.
outside TTC headquarters, August 14, 2014
We also had a big march down to our local MPP Bill
are not getting involved in this, they are saying that this is a
private sector problem, let them deal with it. We are saying that
really you should be looking at it because if Bombardier does not get
back to work soon this is going to be a
problem in terms of the local economy and the services. Also we will
issue if they start bringing scabs in here. That is something the
deal with. We are also telling them that they should be able to build
up some higher Canadian content for these jobs so that they don't just
send everything to Mexico.
WF: Are you
good support from other unions and people in Thunder Bay?
DP: We have a lot of
support from other local unions and
the community. I can't go to any event without 10 people telling me
that we are doing the right thing. We are getting several cheques from
other local unions, we have some substantial donations. When our next
cheques come out there
is going to be $5,000 worth of school supplies available to the
children of the members. Mind you there also some people writing
letters to the media saying that we should be grateful we have a job. I
do not know if those kinds of people they are company
trolls or what.
I hope we can talk to you
again about a settlement
acceptable to our members. That is the whole point. A settlement is
easy but a fair settlement is hard.
Thunder Bay rally, August
25, supports striking Bombardier workers.
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