Labour Board rules in favour of McGill on replacement workers
By McGill Reporter Staff
An injunction McGill obtained to set rules for picketing by striking MUNACA members was yesterday extended to Jan. 21, 2012.
The injunction, granted earlier this month, limits the number of pickets at any one site as well as the amount of noise they can make, and forbids the union from blocking access to the University. McGill sought the injunction after students complained about noise interfering with study, as well as following incidents where several hundred picketers crowded sidewalks on University St. and Durocher St., forcing pedestrians into the street or onto bike paths.
The union has characterized the injunction as eliminating free speech from the campus, although a number of noisy student- and professor-led demonstrations have occurred since the injunction was obtained with no attempt on the part of the University to shut them down. The union told the court it objected to the injunction but would not argue against it.
The Jan. 21 date follows a timetable proposed by the union for an eventual court hearing on “the merits” of the injunction. McGill had proposed a timetable that would have seen such a hearing take place nearly two months earlier, on Nov. 25.
Meanwhile, Quebec’s Labour Relations Board (CRT) ruled in favour of the University on Monday when it said a MUNACA/PSAC complaint about replacement workers was unfounded.
The union had filed a complaint following the report of a Labour Department inspector who had identified 15 employees out of more than 100 he had interviewed during a routine inspection in September. McGill disputed the conclusions in the report and, following a hearing at which both the University and the union argued the matter, the Labour Relatons commissioner concluded the University was acting within Quebec labour law.
A second hearing into the replacement workers decision, which lawyers also refer to as a hearing “on the merits” has yet to be set.
The union has taken its campaign for a new contract off campus in recent days, picketing outside the offices of some members of the University’s Board of Governors, as well as in front of Provost Anthony Masi’s house on Sunday and knocking on doors and distributing leaflets on Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s street on Thanksgiving Monday.
An open letter from a number of professors in Biology, urging a quick settlement to the strike and offering sharp criticism of the University for its positions and actions in the dispute, garnered media attention after the union called a news conference to draw attention to it. The University has responded by saying although it is not business as usual at McGill during the strike, it has looked into the professors’ claims and found them to be exaggerated.
The professors issued an Erratum to the letter a few days later, which stated: “We incorrectly stated that the chemistry labs were not being given, which turns out to be an erroneous information. Chemistry professors have indeed managed to keep these essential labs running at the cost of immense efforts. Our colleagues should be lauded for their extraordinary dedication to our students. We apologize for this misstatement and for the confusion that it may have generated.”