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Negotiations between the union that represents McGill's administrative and support staff and the university administration have paused while the two sides formulate positions on work hours. The McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) and the administration have been negotiating a new contract since November of last year.
At the last negotiation meeting on September 9, the university proposed increasing work hours for MUNACA members. No specific program was offered to achieve this, but a number of options — including eliminating summer Fridays — are a possibility.
Lacking details and without a mandate, MUNACA decided to call a general assembly of its members to formulate a negotiating platform for October 17 at noon in Redpath Hall.
"We don't want to stall negotiations," said MUNACA president Dot Luk. "We hadn't had a hint of this, so we don't have a mandate to discuss it."
Executive Human Resources director Robert Savoie said the university is looking at a number of ways to increase "presence at work." Compared to other universities in Canada, McGill has some of the lowest work hours — only HEC and Bishop's are lower.
"We think, since our mission is to serve students, among other things, that more time here would be extremely useful," he said.
It's still early days in the negotiations, explained Savoie. The two sides only recently began discussing monetary issues, and this proposal is only a starting point.
"What we presented originally had no compensation to it. You have to remember we're at the very early stage — we've only started the bargaining process," he said. "It's really through the bargaining process that these things get solved."
Luk said that MUNACA was upset that the university wants to demand more from their members. She pointed out that MUNACA membership has fallen from 1,800 in 1994 to 1,400 today, while student numbers have gone up.
"Most members feel they work really hard. They felt insulted that the university feels they aren't working hard enough," she said.
"Maybe the university should hire more staff."
Savoie said that the university will have a detailed proposal for negotiators in a couple of weeks, pending approval from senior management.
"Monetary issues always make for very interesting bargaining," he noted wryly.