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MUNACA-McGill labour dispute: conciliation continues

Published: 22 September 2011

Here is another weekly update on the labour dispute between McGill and the MUNACA union (and its PSAC affiliate), from Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa

Once again I wish to thank all of you for your patience and understanding despite any inconveniences resulting from the disruption to services stemming from the labour dispute between MUNACA/PSAC and the University.

We have now met three times with the assistance of a conciliator, and our next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 26. We have made progress on a number of outstanding issues and will continue to work diligently in the hope of reaching an agreement as soon as possible. We maintain that MUNACA members are fairly remunerated and that their overall compensation is comparable to that received by individuals performing similar functions at other Quebec universities.

Let me also address a number of issues that have recently been raised:

Holding classes off campus

Some students and faculty have asked if classes may be held off-campus in order to avoid crossing the MUNACA/PSAC picket lines during the strike. This practice has led to questions and complaints from students about the inconvenience this caused them, about the conflicts this created with respect to their schedules and, some matters concerning safety. To be clear, all academic staff members are expected to teach their courses on campus at the scheduled time and location. This approach is consistent with Section 3.1 of the Regulations Relating to the Employment of Academic Staff and is essential from a risk-management perspective.

If a faculty member chooses not to cross the picket line, then the individual must immediately inform their Chair or Director so that we can take the necessary steps to ensure classes continue as scheduled. A message to academic staff from Provost Anthony C. Masi and me was issued Tuesday and is posted on the Human Resources website devoted to strike news as a Frequently Asked Question: . In it, we make clear that a professor's right to not cross the picket line does not confer the right to move classes off campus. Like other employees who choose not to cross the picket line, the professor would forfeit his or her salary for the time he or she is not on the job.

Crossing the picket line safely

If you are trying to drive through the picket line to your parking spot, please take great care whenever there is a crowd of people. The union is expected to respect the employees', students' and service providers' right to cross the line, and not to block access. However, community members should be careful when they drive through a group and, to proceed slowly and with great care. We also ask that you respect picketers' interest in being able to picket safely. Please take particular care if entering the Burnside Hall garage off University Street. The configuration of two-way cycling path, crowded sidewalk and restricted traffic flow on University when people are dropping off children at the FACE school is creating a particularly difficult situation.

You do have the right, as a student or an employee, to cross the picket line. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel threatened or unsafe in doing so, please call Security at 514-398-3000 (514-398-7777 at Macdonald Campus) and someone will escort you.

Replacement workers

At MUNACA's and PSAC's request, an inspector from the Quebec Ministry of Labour has visited McGill to determine if people performing the tasks of striking MUNACA workers are eligible to do so. This is a normal action in a labour dispute and in due course the inspector will report on observations. This is a step in a process that is not a definitive legal finding. Legal findings can only be made by the Quebec Labour Board, following a hearing. We believe we are operating within the law as well as the obligations we have under our collective agreements, as the University is committed to doing.

Under Quebec labour law, certain types of managers can perform the work of the striking employees. McGill has been scrupulous in ensuring that only those managers eligible for that work have been performing it. It is also legal for other types of managers to take on the duties of the more senior managers who are assigned to MUNACA positions during the strike. As well, non-striking employees are allowed to continue to do their own work, even when some of their functions overlap with those of MUNACA employees.

Is McGill profiting from the strike?

I was surprised to receive an email from one of our students suggesting that McGill was saving money as a result of the labour disruption, and asserting that it is less costly to have the MUNACA staff on strike than on the job. This is simply not true. Not only does the Quebec Government claw back from us the equivalent of what we would have paid workers who are now on strike, but the Government does not allow us to claim any additional expenses we incur (overtime, additional security costs) as the result of the strike. McGill does not profit from this situation.


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 these 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 inquiring to [at] 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

We regret the inconveniences caused by the strike and thank you for your continued patience and understanding. Let me remind you that all our employees are respected members of the McGill community and we value their work enormously.

Another update will be sent next Thursday, in addition to any urgent updates that may be helpful in the interim.



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