The devoted commitment of our members and local unions is, without a doubt, a central theme of the report presented by Quebec Director Renaud Gagné today at the convention. Starting with the federal election that’s just around the corner, Brother Gagné stressed the importance of making sure we elect a government that listens to our demands. “The coming months will be crucial for the future of our organization, our jobs, our members, our families, our children and grandchildren,” he said.
On a more sombre note, Brother Gagné also spoke about the suicides of co-workers in recent months, including that of François Beaudoin, a National Representative in the Organizing Department. But this tragic story also brought to light a wonderful community-based project involving local unions in Abitibi that pooled their efforts to raise $16,000 and create an application to help teens struggling with suicidal thoughts. In addition, thanks to a donation from Unifor, $10,000 was granted to develop a similar application for adults.
Mobilization is another factor that makes a huge difference in the daily battles we wage, including labour disputes such as the conflicts at Vopak in Montreal, Old Castle and Delastek. Mobilization also made a real difference in struggles such as that involving the GM plant in Oshawa and in protecting forestry and aluminum workers against unfair duties imposed by the Americans. Mobilization allows us to make major gains when negotiating and renewing our collective agreements. To cite just one example, we succeeded in negotiating 10 days of leave in cases of domestic violence for the Intercontinental Hotel unit of Local 62, not to mention several clauses providing for the position of women’s advocate in our workplaces.
Another current issue that has us very concerned is the announcement by Groupe Capitales Médias, which owns six newspapers in Quebec, that it is launching a major restructuring of its business. Unifor represents nearly 100 GCM employees working at La Tribune in Sherbrooke and Le Quotidien in Saguenay. Although the news came as no surprise – just last week, we submitted a request for emergency financial assistance to the Quebec government – it is imperative that we find a long-term solution in order to protect our media industry.
And, last but not least, Brother Gagné brought us up to date on Unifor’s lengthy battle in the fisheries sector in Gaspésie. He took the opportunity to break the news that an agreement had been reached with Crustacés de Gaspé after intensive negotiations last week. This plant, you will recall, was shut down for the 2019 season in the midst of the bargaining process to establish the first collective agreement. There is no question that it’s thanks to the mobilization put in place by Unifor in the Grande-Rivière region that we were able to achieve this outcome. Since June, hundreds of members from all regions took turns crisscrossing the region to raise awareness about the issue among the local population. A petition demanding the reopening of the plant and a review of fisheries industry regulations to ensure a more equitable distribution of fishing revenues gathered over 7,000 signatures in just a few weeks! “This is yet another huge victory for Unifor, just as we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the fishermen’s revolt in Gaspésie,” the Quebec Director concluded.