SQDC on strike: an agreement in principle takes shape between the CSN union representative and the employer
The union of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), which represents several hundred employees of the Société québécoise du cannabis, recently announced via a press release that "An agreement in principle was reached between the Syndicat des employées et employés de la SQDC-CSN and their employer at the end of the day on June 23. It will soon be presented to the members who will vote on its entire content.". This news comes shortly after a June 5, 2022, announcement by the union that represented employees planned to exercise five days of strike action to protest wage disparities among state corporations. These 13 branches were in addition to the 22 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) branches that have been on unlimited strike since May 20, 2022. Among the 13 SQDC-CSN branches, strikes were held in Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City and in Gatineau, at the branch located at 73, boulevard de la Gappe.. Note that the new SQDC branch located in the Aylmer sector (559 Chemin Vanier) is not involved in the strike activities. The agreement in principle follows an announcement of a strike for the day of June 25, which had been planned and shared with the employer a few days earlier. Maxime Nadeau, president of the Syndicat des employées et employés de la SQDC-CSN, had explained via the CSN website: "Our negotiations are still stalling on the issue of wages and the employer is slow to table a respectable wage offer for us all. Just a few days before the National Holiday, we have called a strike again today, during a week when traffic will still be very high, at another time when our expertise is in great demand.”.
The strike mandate of the SQDC's unionized employees is mainly related to a wage dispute. The two unions involved, which together represent more than 500 employees, also represent employees of other government corporations, including the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ). Based on several comparisons of the salary scales of the two companies (SQDC and SAQ), the union representatives are currently demanding a reasonable salary offer for the employees. "At the SQDC, the entry-level hourly rate is $17.12 per hour and it takes about eight years to reach the 12th step, which is set at $21.23 per hour," says Stéphanie Gratton, vice-president of the Fédération des employées et employés de services (FEESP-CSN). In comparison, since the adoption of their new collective agreement in 2021 (also following several days of strike action), SAQ employees have been paid a starting wage of $22.59. On the CSN newswire, regarding the question of demanding a better salary similar to that of SAQ employees, Maxime Nadeau mentions: "That's why we always demand parity with those who do roughly the same work as us. We are demanding parity because there is a disparity of more than 38% between us, starting at the first salary level.”. As for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representatives of this union have invited their colleagues represented by the CSN to be wary of the wage offers in the tentative agreement: "We have been on strike for 5 weeks in order to put the necessary pressure on the employer and we will not accept any discounted agreement! What we want is a salary equivalent to our colleagues in other Crown corporations and this, starting now".
Photo caption: The front of the SQDC branch in Gatineau, at 73, boulevard la Gappe.
Photo credit: Sonia Roy