Six months of strike at the SQDC: negotiations are at a standstill

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Six months of strike at the SQDC: negotiations are at a standstill

A general and indefinite strike was called on May 28 in 22 branches of the SQDC.

Negotiations have stalled, after a six-month strike at the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC).

No meeting is scheduled with the conciliator, confirmed Thursday the management of the SQDC and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) affiliated with the FTQ, which represents these striking workers. The last meeting took place on October 7th.

It is still the salary issue that divides the employer and the union, since the normative clauses were settled a few months ago already, confirmed the two parties.

A general and indefinite strike was called on May 28 in 22 of the SQDC's branches. The strike now affects 23 branches, since that of Aylmer has been added.

Nevertheless, the management of the SQDC claims to be ready at any time to sit down at the table to discuss with the local union of CUPE. She notes that she operates 90 branches and that the workers are not unionized in half of them.

Indeed, no meetings are scheduled for the moment. The negotiation process is still ongoing with a conciliator from the Ministry of Labor and we are still available to continue discussions, management said.

CUPE, meanwhile, says its members want to be treated like other government employees, not an underclass. Their colleagues at the Société des alcools, to whom they compare themselves, have been earning $21.50 as a cashier-salesman, at the 1st salary step, since last April.

The starting salary at the SQDC is $17.12 per hour.

Our union members have been extremely clear: they don't want to accept and they don't want the union to come up with things that would lead us to confirm that we are an underclass of state employees, said CUPE local president David Clément in an interview.

After six months of strike in this Crown corporation, he is waiting for a sign from the employer: We are waiting for a return from the Treasury Board and the employer, with a proposal salary grid that allows us to sit down to negotiate.

The SQDC pointed out that it has already reached an agreement with other union members, less numerous, who are represented by the CSN. But the members of CUPE did not consider this settlement sufficient, which the CSN union members accepted, indicated Mr. Clément.

The state-owned company emphasizes that its branches remain open despite the strike. The SQDC is making efforts to maintain its customer service in its branches, including those affected by the strike, which remain open, but at reduced hours. Customers also still have access to online purchases.

The union has also requested first collective agreement arbitration for one of the branches it represents. This is a special interest arbitration process, when the parties first attempt to negotiate the parameters of a collective agreement.

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