Negotiations between MUNACA and McGill came to a halt on Friday, Nov. 11 after the provincial conciliator suspended talks. The Quebec government appointee did so, citing that the parties were too far apart on wage issues. Dates for negotiation were undecided until yesterday evening, when the conciliator called the parties back to the table for Friday, Nov. 25.
Other issues such as pensions, benefits, and premiums have been seriously discussed, though they remained unresolved, according to a statement on MUNACA’s website.
Both parties sought to explain the issue’s divisiveness.
“We have stated from the outset of these negotiations that we are committed to winning a fair agreement, one that brings us in line with other Montreal universities,” the statement read. “Unfortunately McGill to date has not demonstrated that it is prepared to agree to this.”
MUNACA’s current position on wages is twofold, according to a document on its website dated Sept. 15. One part of the union’s demands is a three per cent annual increase in wages per employee. The second component calls for a “proper wage scale.”
“Our current proposal has employees moving from the minimum to the maximum of the pay scale in six years (under the old collective agreement it would take an employee 37 years to reach the top of their pay scale, which is unheard of in the unionized university sector),” the statement reads. “At other Montreal universities it takes anywhere from three years to 14 years.”
McGill also issued a statement on the halt, delivered via an email from VP Administration and Finance Michael Di Grappa. Citing constraints such as a $6 million budgetary deficit, an additional six agreements with other on-campus unions, and the provincial government’s salary policy, Di Grappa explained that bumps in the road were to be expected in the negotiation process.
“Please be assured that we will not rest in our effort to find a settlement as quickly as possible. The administration wants an end to this strike as much as anyone at McGill. To that end, the university made significant changes in its positions on a number of issues during the course of the negotiations—as has the union.”