McGill support workers set up picket lines at superhospital
Published Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:21PM EDT
MONTREAL - Striking McGill University support workers have managed to bring construction at the site of the McGill superhospital to a halt.
Early Thursday morning hundreds of support staff set up picket lines outside the Glen Yards construction site.
The move comes several weeks after the university obtained an injunction preventing striking workers from setting up on or around the downtown university campus or its MacDonald campus in Ste. Anne de Bellevue.
Barred from being near students, they decided to move to another location that will eventually be workplace for some support workers.
Striking employees like Lynda Scott say McGill needs to improve its pay rates, while giving workers more control over pensions and benefits.
"I've been here 30 years and never been on strike," said Scott.
"I haven't had a raise in 15 years. I'm at the salary ceiling."
Patrick Leblanc, spokesperson for the striking workers, confirmed that the construction crews building the superhospital were respecting their picket lines.
"It was about three weeks ago that McGill obtained an injunction preventing us from being on campus," said Leblanc. "Se we decided to set up a picket line at another McGill symbol."
McGill University denounced the job action in a strongly worded communique.
The written statement from Michael Di Grappa, Vice Principal Administration of McGill says: "The hospital is an urgently needed community resource that will serve millions of people. Shutting down this project will be costly, deprive hundreds of workers of their construction jobs and delay work that must be completed before winter sets in."
Di Grappa went on to call it an "unnecessary, provocative action" by MUNACA.
1,700 McGill University support workers have been on strike since Sept. 1, after negotiations that began in January broke down.
The striking staff members work in scientific laboratories, in student registration offices, and in many other sectors of the university and its hospitals.
Talks have since resumed, overseen by a mediator, but the union says progress is going too slowly.