By McGill Reporter Staff
McGill and the MUNACA/PSAC union representing striking support staff at the University are before Quebec’s Labour Board (Commission de relations de travail) today making arguments before a commissioner about a report that claimed a number of McGill employees are not allowed to work during the strike or replace MUNACA workers.
The union maintains the workers are illegal replacements, identified by a Quebec Labour Ministry inspector in the report he filed last Friday. The University counters by saying it has discovered a number of factual errors in the report, as well as errors in interpretation, that will confirm there are no illegal workers who have been moved into MUNACA positions to keep the University running since the strike began Sept. 1.
Negotiations continue tomorrow in another meeting with the Quebec Government conciliator, but talks are not scheduled to resume thereafter for another two weeks. The conciliator, with the co-operation of the two parties, determines the timing and agenda of the meetings. As agreed by both parties following the conciliator’s suggestion, the focus for the time being will be on issues other than salary, pension and benefits.
Meanwhile, the University obtained a Superior Court injunction last Friday that puts limits on picket-line activities.
Specifically, the Court ruled that the MUNACA/PSAC must:
• Abstain “from demonstrating or protesting by shouting, chanting, marching, picketing, displaying signs or posters, gesturing or assembling” on McGill 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.
The union and some student groups have characterized this as an attempt by the University to curtail freedom of speech on campus.
“We are deeply disappointed that Principal Heather Munroe-Blum has established the equivalent of a ‘No Free Speech Zone’ at McGill,” MUNACA President Kevin Whittaker said in a statement posted on the union’s website. “It is disturbing when the head of McGill University, who professes to promote inquiry and discussion, uses her substantial resources to silence views that question her commitment to fairness.”
Michael Di Grappa, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) said that is absolutely not the case.
“The union is still able to disseminate its message and students are free to protest on campus provided they do so in a way that doesn’t disrupt classes or study,” he said yesterday, during a loud pro-MUNACA student protest that began at the Student Centre on McTavish Street, moved to the Y intersection and then continued outside the James Administration Building before moving down University Street and on to the Roddick Gates.
“We were compelled to seek the injunction because we had received complaints from students about noise on the picket line disrupting their studies,
because the sheer number of picketers on the sidewalks on Durocher and University Streets had forced pedestrians onto the street and bike path, and because deliveries, including shipments of perishable material critical to research projects, were being impeded.
“The judge agreed with us and set the rules for picketing.”
The injunction expires Monday.
Both sides will be in court to argue the case again before a judge decides whether to extend it, amend it or lift it.