Montreal Fires Six Firefighters, Suspends Dozens After Pension Protests

Montreal city hall pension protest

The scene in Montreal’s city hall during the pension protests.

Six firefighters have been fired and 46 have been suspended in Montreal after those employee’s participated in last month’s raucous protests against pension cuts. From the Montreal Gazette:

This was the fallout announced Thursday by the city of Montreal following an investigation by its human resources and comptroller’s departments into the Aug. 18 ransacking of city hall. More than 100 municipal workers, most of them firefighters, stormed in, tossing reams of paper throughout the building, chasing the mayor and councillors out of council chambers and up to offices, and flinging water and water glasses from elevated viewing galleries down toward councillors.

[…]

Calling the acts disgraceful, Montreal executive committee chair Pierre Desrochers said video and witness testimony had implicated 63 individuals, and that more individuals were being investigated. Implicated individuals were invited to give their version, he said. Most did not.

The level of punishment was based on the gravity of the offences, which ranged from raucous protesting to vandalism and outright intimidation, Desrochers said. Asked what constituted a firing offence, he referred to workers who ran up to Mayor Denis Coderre’s office and broke windows trying to get in.

“This direct attack on democracy included acts of intimidation of a gravity without precedent in a free and democratic society,” Desrochers said. “Never will our administration cede to intimidation, and never will it accept that citizens be taken hostage by tactics that go too far.”

One union leader was angry with the “brutal” punishments. From the Montreal Gazette:

The head of Montreal’s firefighters’ union, Ronald Martin, promised to fight the firings and suspensions. He said he has not been fired although he heard the rumours of his firing in the wind. “Maybe there is a bailiff’s letter waiting for me at home. As far as I know I have not been fired,” he said during an afternoon news conference.

Martin called the city’s action brutal and disappointing, and a political act that is an attempt at “union busting.”

“These are dark days for labour relations,” Martin said.

The union leader appealed to members to stay calm in the face of firings, which he called the city’s provocation to the “family of firefighters.”

“They want to make us angry, don’t fall into the trap,” Martin said.

All the workers will be able to appeal their suspensions and firings.

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