PSAC Speaks Out against Privatization Threats Involving the Plains of Abraham

QUEBEC CITY, October 25, 2018 – The Public Service Alliance of Canada, Quebec region (PSAC-Quebec), is condemning the National Battlefields Commission’s threats to contract out Plains of Abraham maintenance as a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate the unionized employees who have taken pride in performing those duties for over 40 years.

The 50 or so employees, who are responsible for visitor intake, guiding and maintenance at the Plains of Abraham and its museum, have been without a collective agreement since October 31, 2017. They are members of the Syndicat des employés des Plaines d’Abraham, which is part of the Union of National Employees (UNE), a PSAC component.

“Instead of negotiating, the employer is threatening to cut our jobs and privatize everything,” says David Tremblay, President of the Local. “This quiet privatization of the Plains of Abraham makes no sense. The Plains are a historical landmark visited by more than four million tourists a year. Thanks to our members, the Battlefields Commission has won a number of awards. If the Plains are to continue to reflect Quebec pride, they need to be maintained by employees who care about their work, not by private contractors looking to make money.”

Most Battlefields Commission employees are seasonal, with the least favourable working conditions in the entire federal government. “We aren’t asking for the moon, adds Yvon Barrière, Regional Executive Vice-President for PSAC-Quebec. These workers earn as much as 42% less than National Capital Commission or Parks Canada employees. Their working conditions clearly have some catching up to do.”

Hiring is a challenge for the Commission because wages are not competitive and the administration sometimes uses placement agencies to cover hiring gaps. The union has even suggested bringing snow-removal and grass-cutting operations back in-house, to create longer-term jobs and avoid unemployment.

Clearly, Secretary-Director General Michèle Gagné would rather do business with private contractors than sit down at the table with her employees. There have been only four bargaining sessions over the year. Last week, the employer handed the union a notice of dispute, the first step in obtaining the right to declare a lockout by mid-January. PSAC considers that the National Battlefields Commission is acting in bad faith and attempting to impose mediocre working conditions on its mobilized employees. On October 11, the union filed a complaint of unfair labour practices with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).

About UNE and PSAC
The Union of National Employees (UNE) is a PSAC component. It represents 22,000 members working in federal departments and agencies across Canada, including the workers at the National Battlefields Commission who have been without a collective agreement since November 1, 2017.

PSAC represents more than 180,000 members across Canada. An FTQ affiliate, PSAC-Quebec has more than 40,000 members in the federal public sector, Quebec universities and the private sector.

David Patry-Cloutier
PSAC-Quebec | 514-909-2005