Last Friday, we saw two significant developments in the
MUNACA/PSAC strike against McGill.
First, in response to MUNACA/PSAC pressure tactics that have
been limiting access to our campus and putting members of our
community at risk, McGill asked the Superior Court of Quebec for an
injunction constraining some union activities on the picket
This request was granted late Friday afternoon. The ruling,
which remains in effect through October 3, is posted
on our website.
Second, an inspector from the Quebec Ministry of Labour reported
that a small number of McGill employees appeared to be ineligible
to perform work normally done by MUNACA employees. McGill disputes
these findings in each and every case and will, if called upon,
make its views clear to a Labour Board hearing that will ultimately
determine the facts.
McGill is abiding by its collective agreements and Quebec labour
law in doing its best to minimize the effects of the strike on its
students, professors and researchers.
The injunction, which we sought reluctantly, restricts the size
of picket lines, curtails noise levels and calls for unimpeded
access to our campus.
More precisely, the Court has said that MUNACA/PSAC must:
- Abstain "from demonstrating or protesting by shouting,
chanting, marching, picketing, displaying signs or posters,
gesturing or assembling" on our property;
- Cease and abstain "from impeding, obstructing or inhibiting
access" to McGill;
- Abstain from using microphones and other devices to amplify
sound on the picket line;
- Abstain "from impeding, obstructing or inhibiting" pedestrian
or vehicular traffic;
- Abstain "from assembling in a group of more than 15 persons
within four metres of the entries and exits" to McGill.
In applying for the provisional injunction we demonstrated that
over the past few days the union has been escalating its pressure
tactics - preventing, for example, the delivery of delicate and
expensive shipments that include biological and chemical materials.
Many of these items are perishable and need to be kept in
particular conditions and delivered within a strict time frame or
they are lost. By their actions, MUNACA/PSAC have been putting the
research work of many our professors and students in peril.
In addition, I should point out that earlier this week between
400 and 500 picketers were walking as a group and blocking
sidewalks on Durocher St. and University St. The sheer number of
picketers put other pedestrians at risk, forcing them off the
sidewalk and onto the bike path or the street, and hampered members
of our community from entering the campus.
Finally, the noise level at various entry points to the campus
was unacceptably high.
Please understand that we took this step as a last resort. Our
preferred solution was to negotiate a protocol with the union that
would have kept pedestrian areas around the campus safe and ensured
delivery access to our buildings in order to safeguard vital
materials without putting undue constraints on picketing.
Unfortunately, it proved impossible to establish such a protocol
with the union and we felt that in the best interests of the McGill
community, we had no choice but to seek a solution through the
As we have stated since MUNACA/PSAC members walked out, we are
committed to ensuring that classes remain open and that we continue
to fulfill our academic and research mission. At the same time,
ensuring the safety and security of the McGill community remains
our top priority.
We are satisfied with the Superior Court's decision and view it
as an important step in ensuring that students and faculty are able
to pursue their studies and related activities in a safe and secure
Earlier, at MUNACA's and PSAC's request, an inspector from the
Quebec Ministry of Labour visited McGill to determine if people
performing the tasks of striking MUNACA workers are eligible to do
so. He met with more than 100 employees over a two-and-a-half-day
period, a difficult task for which McGill expresses its
This is a normal action in a labour dispute and the inspector
has reported on his observations, as he is obliged to do when
requested. This report is a step in a process and is not a
definitive legal finding. As the inspector himself notes, only the
Quebec Labour Board can make a legal determination and, if the
Board holds a hearing into this report, McGill will make its
position extremely clear.
After meeting the employees, the inspector referenced very few
breaches of Section 109.1 of the Quebec Labour Code in his
In every case, McGill disagrees with the examples he cited.
Some of these include:
- Casual employees who had been hired before the strike to carry
out their own work, which may overlap the tasks of MUNACA
- In a number of cases we have had a chance to review, we have
found errors of fact - including references to employees being
replaced who were not even members of the MUNACA/PSAC union to
- The situation of an employee who is eligible to perform the
duties that have been assigned at the Macdonald Campus, even though
this individual normally works at the downtown campus. Both
campuses are managed by the same employer; they are subject to the
If MUNACA/PSAC chooses to pursue this matter before the Quebec
Labour Board, McGill will take that opportunity to show that what
it is doing is legal: we disagree in every case.
McGill maintains that all the contingency actions taken to keep
the University operating in its core mission of teaching and
research the MUNACA/PSAC strike are fully within the law.