Montreal Unions Will Fight “Unjust” Pension Reform Bill

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A union coalition representing 65,000 workers has announced workers may strike for 24 hours in protest of the proposed pension reforms contained in Bill 3. Additionally, the union spokesman said a legal challenge could be in the works.

Bill 3 would increase pension contributions and eliminate COLAs for many workers.

More from the Montreal Gazette:

A coalition representing municipal workers across Quebec said it will continue to fight the government’s “profoundly unjust” municipal pension reform despite amendments introduced this week by Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau.

“Our people are more determined than ever,” Marc Ranger, spokesperson for the Coalition syndicale pour la libre négociation, told a press conference Friday morning at the Crémazie Blvd. E. headquarters of the Quebec Federation of Labour.

Ranger said some unions that are part of the coalition representing 65,000 firefighters, police officers, transport workers and blue- and white-collars will hold a 24-hour strike to protest Bill 3 but did not announce the date or details. However, workers providing essential services, like police and firefighters, do not have the right to strike.

Ranger promised that despite members’ anger, unions will act within the law, noting that the coalition’s mass demonstration in Montreal two weeks ago was lawful and orderly.

Ranger also said the union intends to launch a court challenge against the bill, which he called unconstitutional.

Lawmakers toned down Bill 3 this week after massive protests. Originally, the proposal would have frozen COLAs for 20,000 workers. Now, current retirees will not have their COLAs frozen.

44 Municipal Workers Face Charges After Montreal Pension Protest

Montreal Pension protest
CREDIT: Russell Copeman

Dozens of municipal workers in Montreal are facing criminal charges after participating in a protest that left the city hall in shambles.

The protest stems from a proposed law, Bill 3, which would force workers to pay more into the pension system to cover funding shortfalls. From the Canadian Press:

Montreal’s police chief says 44 people will face criminal charges in connection with a rowdy pension protest inside city hall earlier this month.

Marc Parent says the charges will include participating in an illegal gathering, mischief and assault.

Around 250 unionized municipal workers stormed into city hall on Aug. 18, where they tossed paper all over the main chamber and plastered the building with protest stickers.

The demonstrators also unfurled a sign calling the mayor a thief, while one councilor alleges he was struck while others said they were sprayed with water.

More details on the controversial Bill 3, from the Montreal Gazzette:

Here is what Bill 3 would do:

—   Ensure that as of Jan. 1, 2014, all municipal employees would, retroactively, begin to contribute half the cost of their pensions, while municipalities pay the other half. (Some unions have negotiated better pension deals, where the employer pays 70 per cent and the employee pays 30 per cent, for example);

—   Ensure that employees and municipalities share the cost evenly of any pension plan deficits accumulated before Jan. 1, 2014;

—  Forbid pension plan costs from exceeding 18 per cent of payroll costs;

—  Allow cities to freeze cost-of-living increases in pension payouts to municipal retirees;

— Allow the province to appoint an arbitrator who could impose a settlement if negotiations fail to result in an agreement within 18 months. The arbitrator would then have an additional six months to impose a settlement.