To the McGill community: Conciliation begins today

Published: 8 September 2011

on behalf of Michael Di Grappa, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance)

McGill and MUNACA are at the bargaining table today, with the assistance of a conciliator appointed by the Government of Quebec.

This is the first of what could be a number of conciliation meetings, with the goal of reaching a negotiated settlement in MUNACA's current strike.

The issues

As we enter this next phase of negotiations, it has become apparent through feedback from faculty and students that the McGill community is seeking greater clarity on the differences - and they are significant - between the positions of MUNACA and McGill.

As we have stated, our goal is to reach an agreement that is fair, equitable and fiscally responsible.

The comprehensive proposal we have put forward meets these criteria. Contrary to statements by leaders of MUNACA, their global compensation package is comparable to that received by staff performing similar functions at other Montreal and Quebec universities.

Salary differences

Although MUNACA has recently lowered its salary demand, it is still seeking an increase for its members of 28.9 per cent over three years, which represents a 3-per-cent per year salary increase and a 6.64 per cent per year progression increase.  We are offering a 1.2 per cent per year increase (3.6 per cent over three years), which reflects Quebec government salary policy and is equivalent to increases negotiated with six other McGill staff support and technical unions and more than 450,000 of Quebec's public sector employees. McGill cannot afford to go beyond this amount. To do so, would require reducing the already constrained funding we have for our academic and research mission and student services.

Pension differences

Unlike many other Quebec universities, McGill has a pension plan that covers all of our employees. MUNACA has asked to be able to veto any changes to the plan, affecting all members. The Board of Governors of McGill University, as plan sponsor, has the responsibility to assure viability and sustainability of the plan for all of the members. When changes to the plan are proposed, this must be with a view to protecting the long-term sustainability of the plan for all members and to ensuring fair treatment for the generations that follow.

We have, however, offered to consult systematically with MUNACA and all other employee groups, before making recommendations to the Board.

Benefits differences

With respect to benefits, we oversee the benefit package for all McGill employees. As a compromise, in response to MUNACA's request, we have offered to establish a separate benefit plan for MUNACA employees alone and to administer such a MUNACA plan with the University maintaining its commitment to its total contribution to the plan. We have provided MUNACA's representatives with all the necessary information for them to make an informed decision on this offer. As we have pointed out to MUNACA, this would nonetheless, be a significantly more costly approach for its members. Nevertheless, MUNACA may wish to pursue this option.

Other matters of difference

These range from vacation pay (MUNACA wants to add to their current five weeks of vacation, a sixth week of vacation after 15 years of service) plus several days a year of additional time off, essential services (MUNACA wants to delete the definition of these services from the collective agreement while the University thinks that more is needed in order to better support mission-critical functions) and job postings and selection of personnel (MUNACA wants the selection process to be based solely on seniority; McGill wants to retain the right to select the best candidate).

Keeping you informed

Although it has been a challenging start to the academic year, classes are continuing as scheduled. Indeed, we are looking forward to a busy September and October with the usual array of major events such as the launch of the Mordecai Richler Writer in Residence program, Homecoming and, of course, Fall Convocation to name but a few.

As well as a document outlining the University's positions in this dispute, additional "Frequently Asked Questions" have been posted to the special Human Resources website created to keep you informed during the strike. You can find them at: If you have questions not answered by the explanation of the University's position or the FAQs, please feel free to send an email to [at] with your query. Your email will be answered promptly.

A website containing a list of the revised hours of service for various points in the University, including the Service Point for students, has been posted at

In order to minimize disruptions, we continue to adjust contingency plans as needed to meet changing circumstances. We remind you that Provincial labour law allows certain categories of our managers to perform the work done by striking workers. McGill is respecting those provisions of the law.

Please remember that you have the right, as a student or an employee, to cross the picket line. McGill will ensure that you can enter the campus safely. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel threatened or unsafe, please call Security at 514-398-3000 (514-398-7777 at Macdonald Campus) and someone will escort you.

We apologize for any inconvenience resulting from the unauthorized blocking of McTavish St. by certain picketers. We have asked them on numerous occasions to remove them and to permit the free circulation of pedestrians and vehicles. We trust that these were isolated incidents that will not be repeated.

If, as an employee, you choose not to cross a picket line, it is important to remember that you will not be paid for the time you are not at work.

We will keep you up to date on a regular basis; at a minimum there will be a weekly update of information related to the provision of services and the progress at the table every Thursday. If there is new information to share in between these messages, we will issue additional updates.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.


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