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QS does not want unions to be forced to defend perpetrators of sexual violence

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Himself a former union advisor, the supportive Alexandre Leduc, who we see here in September, recounted having experienced a situation in which an employee had sent explicit photos to colleagues. “You want to force a union to defend this person?” he asked Minister Boulet.

MP Alexandre Leduc, from Québec solidaire (QS), tried Thursday to convince the Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet, to modify the Labor Code so that unions are no longer obliged to defend employees sanctioned for sexual violence.

“If we want to send a very clear signal in the workplace to stop acts of sexual harassment at the source, why not [say] that it is not true that no matter what you do, your union will defend you ?” launched MP Leduc.

Himself a former union advisor, he recounted having experienced a situation in which an employee had sent explicit photos to colleagues. “You want to force a union to defend this person ?” he asked Minister Boulet as part of the study of Bill 42.

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Mr. Leduc tabled an amendment which modified the scope of article 47.2 of the Labor Code. This article governs the duty of representation of unions. It stipulates in particular that a union “shall not act in bad faith or in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner” towards employees.

The following article provides that an employee can file a complaint if he considers that his union has failed in this duty, in the context where he has suffered “dismissal or disciplinary action”. In the opinion of QS, this article should be modified in cases where the sanction resulted from violence of a sexual nature. In short: an employee sanctioned for sexual violence could no longer blame his union for having poorly defended him. “Why, in the specific case of sexual violence, would we not partially lift this obligation of representation ?” asked Mr. Leduc.

An intellectual opening

Last week, Minister Boulet declared to the Devoirthat he was “open” to a revision of the Labor Code so that unions were no longer “obligated to defend everyone,” as Mr. Leduc had said. On Thursday, he clarified that his opening was intellectual, but that it clashed with reality, notably constitutional.

“This would create a truly separate regime for non-union workers. The non-unionized could go to the CNESST, for administrative review and to court. That, for me, is a deep issue and I am sure that we would get this broken,” he pleaded. He referred to “constitutional issues”, and said he had difficulty “denying” an employee “the right to make a complaint”.

Mr. Boulet subsequently recommended that unions have policies to “clearly describe how [they] must behave in the face of perpetrators of sexual violence or psychological harassment.” Article 47.2 is interpreted by some unions as “a duty, regardless of the circumstances,” he stressed. However, this interpretation is false in his opinion.

Although he said he understood “the feeling that inhabits” Mr. Leduc, Mr. Boulet rejected his proposed amendment, with the support of the Liberal Party of Quebec. “I’m a little disappointed,” reacted the supportive MP. I found that it was an additional way of tightening the screws on workplace aggressors, of sending the message that it is not true that you will be defended anytime, anywhere. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116