Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery workers protest cuts to workforce
A groundhog looks out from its burrow beneath a gravestone at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
MONTREAL -- Workers at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery handed out white roses to Mother's Day visitors on Sunday as part of a protest against decisions made by the parish.
“We mobilized to show customers that we don't agree with the management of our employers, who have been reducing opening hours for several years,” said Benoit Simard, president of the cemetery workers' union. “We are there to fight for us, but for them, too.”
Simard pointed to the recent abolition of 26 seasonal worker positions and said management is not respect the employment floor of 62 regular maintenance employees for the cemetery.
“Of the 30 people who work on the lawn, we're down to around 10,” he said.
The workers have been without an employment contract since Dec. 31, 2018. Last March, 96 per cent of the union members agreed to bank 10 strike days during an electronic vote.
“We don't want to cut customer services, so the strike will be a last resord,” said Simard. “We don't want to harm families. What we want is for our employer to respect us.”
The union accused the Catholic parish of invoking financial problems as the reason for the cuts but said they have not been given access to accounting books.
Management did not respond to requests for comment.