In light of the Association of McGill University Support Employee’s (AMUSE) five-day strike, CKUT sat down with one of their executives and bargaining members to address their reasons for their work stoppage from October 29th to November 2nd. 82% of the AMUSE members who showed up for the strike vote voted in favour of strike action on October 20th.
AMUSE, McGill’s contract worker union, represents 1500 workers who work all across campus, including Athletics, the McGill Bookstore, and Enrolment Services. The strike was sparked by an impasse in AMUSE’s negotiations with McGill, specifically on the clause regarding McGill’s Work Study program. However, casual worker dissatisfaction ran much deeper, particularly for employees who were not students. More information in the above embedded interview.
The interview was carried out on Monday, the half-way point of their five-day strike. At that point, AMUSE had disrupted various on-campus operations and events, including sporting events and McGill’s Open House. They had also started a hashtag – #istandwithAMUSE – for people to share their experiences on social media. Or pose for a selfie with a sign.
No employees were hired to scab their work, likely because they had declared an end date to the strike. However, Open House did see various full-time permanent employees and higher-up administrators carrying out their work, such as giving campus tours.
The highest profile event that AMUSE disrupted during their strike was Media@McGill’s video conference with Edward Snowden. Before the talk started, AMUSE marched through the lecture hall, shaming the room for crossing their picket lines. A mixture of cheers, jeers and boos ensued. AMUSE picketed all the entrances, handing out flyers which described their conditions, why not to cross their picket line, and that they did not intend to stand against Edward Snowden’s message. Picketers underscored that their picket lines were to draw attention to Media@McGill’s history of ad hoc, precarious contracts.
Nevertheless, a picket line was set up at the entrance for media. A rally also set up camp among the line of hopeful attendees, pushing the message that their rally was the better activity for the evening (The line for Snowden snaked from Leacock, past the Arts Building, down the stairs to McConnell and up all the way to Trottier).
Ironically, Snowden expressed sympathy for their cause saying that “It’s very very very hard to be the least popular person in the room.” And yet at the same time, he also expressed apprehension about journalists being treated as regular citizens (in the context of recent findings that the SPVM and SQ have been tapping journalist communications for information).
Notably, strike pay was only available to workers who chose to work at least a four-hour strike shift. Strike pay was $53 for a four-hour picket shift if you worked under 20 hours a week and $75 for a four-hour picket shift if you worked over 20 hours a week. If members worked more than one AMUSE job, they were told to combine the hours to calculate the total. Several members expressed to CKUT about their discomfort with being compensated only if they picketed. Interestingly enough, Snowden had brought up the right to being a private citizen in his video conference, specifically the right to understanding how governing bodies made their decisions (“Why shouldn’t we get compensated if we don’t picket?”) and the right to keeping controversial views private (“I don’t want to picket in the rain”).
Casual workers have returned to their posts as of Thursday November 3rd and hope to hear updates with negotiations with McGill that will restart November 10th.
CKUT News spoke with Jen from the Cotes-Des-Neiges Community Council regarding the Blue Bonnets public demonstration, which took place the morning of June 22nd. The demonstration raised awareness and increased engagement towards the development of a large social housing project, proposed for the now-empty lot near Namur Metro.
This piece was produced for CKUT by Claudia Edwards.
Click here to download audio.
This past Friday the Collective of Non-Status Women of Montreal held a public “haunting” outside of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s constituency office, right across the street from Jarry metro. Since delivering a letter to his office last November, appealing for amnesty while describing their extreme precarity as women and workers living without permanent or legal status, the women’s collective has been waiting for a response. In January 2016 they renewed this call in a press conference.
As stated in their open letter to the new Prime Minister:
We are women and mothers who live and work in the shadows, invisible and excluded. We live in precarity because of our immigration status. Our precarious status threatens our security, our liberty as women, our rights as workers, our families. We live here; we will remain here. This is our home and our children’s home. We want to live in dignity, peace and stability; we want an end to the fear that constantly tortures us.
Open Video-Letter: “We want to live in Dignity, Security and Peace”
This piece was produced by news correspondent Claudia Edwards.
Justin Trudeau’s Montreal office (529 rue Jarry Est) was the venue for a demonstration under the banner of Solidarity Across Boarders.
“Ouvrez les frontières!” chanted attendees as a marching band played and people danced. Hot chocolate was served for all on the chilly Sunday afternoon of December 13th.
Amidst the fanfare, the demonstration was a serious call to the nascent Liberal government and their current stance on immigration and non-status workers living in Canada.
In light of Canada’s current acceptance of Syrian refugees, Solidarity Across Boarders is urging the government to take their immigration policies a step further. This includes the regularization of current non-status people who are working without documentation, further relaxation of immigration laws, and a halt to the arrest and detaining of already vulnerable individuals.
The rally was also held to denounce racism, in particular islamophobia that has contributed further resistance to immigration.
After a public address was made (some of which can be heard above), the rally marched over to rue Saint-Denis and down to Jean-Talon.
Among the speakers were representatives in support of non-status women living in Canada, and Mexicans united for regularisation.
For more information on their campaigns, or to get involved, please visit Solidarity Across Boarders
Click HERE to download the interview.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) mediated a meeting between some members of independent media and the Montreal Police on September 21st, to bridge existing disputes between the two groups. At Montreal demonstrations and rallies, the police have often been acting aggressively towards the protesters, kettling and using force on them. The journalists have been victims of attacks as well if they happened to be indistinguishable from the protesters and looked unconvincing to police.
Although members of the police portray violent accidents as simple misunderstandings, their forceful acts restrict journalists’ rights for free expression and oftentimes result in physical damage. CJFE brought the two groups together for a possibility of establishing ground rules of conduct lest further instances of brutality occur. CKUT’s Kateryna Gordiychuk talked with Tom Henheffer to find out more.
This past Sunday was the 10th Annual Memorial March and Vigil for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Each year the event honours the missing and murdered women and girls, while drawing attention to systemic violence perpetuated by the state, police forces, and education systems against indigenous women and their communities. A demand has been made, but not met, for a public inquiry into the disappearances of these women, and last year the RCMP reported more than 1,000 indigenous women were homicide victims, while indigenous activists estimate this number is closer to 3000.
The event was organized by Missing Justice, Quebec Native Women, and the Centre for Gender Advocacy. Invited guests included: Buffalo Hat Singers, Norman Achneepineskum, Ellen Gabriel, Melissa Mollen Dupuis (Idle No More), Nakuset (Native Women’s Shelter & Urban Aboriginal Strategy Network), Rachel Deutsch (Urban Aboriginal Strategy Network), Laureanne Fontaine (Quebec Native Women), and more!
This segment was produced by Claudia Edwards.