The struggle of the municipal workers for their rights and dignity against state attacks is an election issue. In providing the services we depend on, municipal workers produce immense value for the society. Their right to a just claim on that value in the form of wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions must be recognized and guaranteed. Their right to a decisive say in determining that claim must also be recognized and guaranteed.
The Quebec government and various municipal governments in the service of private interests follow the neo-liberal mantra that cities must be hubs to attract private monopoly investment. In order for this to happen, they say, an ever-greater share of the wealth produced by the workers must be transferred into the coffers of large private interests. These private interests that play a decisive role are not necessarily Québécois or even Canadian. They are often large global corporations or companies based in other countries that exercise their power here through supranational free trade agreements that place our public services up for auction. As a means of serving that anti-social aim, rather than negotiation, the imposition of working conditions, the outsourcing of municipal jobs to erode working conditions, the privatization of services or the theft of pension plans are becoming the norm.
Municipal workers are waging a determined struggle against state attacks to defend their rights and dignity, as well as the services they provide. For example, they oppose the theft of their pension plans by the Couillard government, which passed a law in late 2014 to that end. That law virtually removed pension plans from what workers can negotiate, increased workers’ contributions to the plans and forced workers to pay for past pension plan deficits even though it was the municipalities that failed to contribute the required amounts. It has also eliminated any automatic indexation of retirees’ pensions. Municipal workers have an ongoing lawsuit against the theft of their pensions.
They deserve the support of all Quebeckers!