Listuguj First Nation – The unionized staff at Alaqsite’w Gitpu School in the Mi’gmaq First Nation of Listuguj voted strongly in support of a strike at a meeting this month. Workers will be in a legal strike position on August 26.
“A strike is always a last resort, but this employer has given the union no choice,” says Jeannie Baldwin, Public Service Alliance of Canada Atlantic Regional Executive Vice-President.
Bargaining between the union and band council members began in 2008. To date the parties have signed off on all articles with the exception of wages. Talks broke down when the employer tabled a zero per cent wage increase, after which the Union of Listuguj Employees applied for conciliation. Negotiations have been facilitated by a conciliator since May 2010.
At conciliation, the Union agreed to a one-year contract and a zero per cent wage increase. This was met with a counter from the employer of a ten per cent cut in wages and lay-offs.
“We are alarmed by the employer’s position,” says Patsy Mallaley, President of the Union of Listuguj Employees. “We feel that the school staff and this community’s students deserve much better.”
The union represents 53 teaching and non-teaching employees at the Alaqsite’w Gitpu School in the Mi’gmaq First Nation of Listuguj in Quebec. Eighty-seven per cent of school staff is made up of First Nation Members who teach 260 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. The school offers courses in three languages – French, English and Mi’gmaq.
The Union is asking parents and community members to contact their band council and ask that the employer return to the table with a fair and respectful offer. School is scheduled to resume on August 27.
The Union of Listuguj Employees (ULE) is a direct chartered local of the Public Service Alliance of Canada which represents 172,000 workers from coast to coast.
PSAC’s involvement with Aboriginal workers began in the 1970s, when the Union first assisted public sector workers in the North in negotiating collective agreements. By the late 1970s, PSAC represented the majority of the employees of territorial governments.
In 1988, the PSAC members working for the Inuvik Housing Authority held the longest strike in PSAC history. The strike lasted four months and created new jurisprudence for the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
PSAC also represents language teachers, teaching and education assistants and administrative assistants who work at Six Nations schools and many other Aboriginal workers in communities across the country.