(Montreal) CUPE’s strike at the Société québécoise du cannabis has now reached 13 months and it’s deadlocked.

No negotiation meeting is planned between the parties in the short, medium or long term, union president David Clément said on Wednesday.

The indefinite strike of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), affiliated with the FTQ, began on May 28, 2022, after a few isolated strike days.

“We see that there is a total impasse on the part of the employers in this. We tried to work with the settlement hypotheses conciliator and, at the last meeting, approximately 95% of the options were refused by the SQDC management committee,” said Mr. Clément in an interview.

“The chief mediator and conciliator of the Ministry of Labor reviewed the situation with the parties on June 15 and decided to suspend the meetings until further notice, considering that a significant gap remains on certain monetary issues, including salary and duration in the current model of negotiations, ”reported the management of the SQDC.

The walkout now affects 24 branches whose workers are CUPE members. Workers in two other branches represented by CUPE, in Neufchâtel and Rouyn-Noranda, have however initiated a first collective agreement arbitration process.

This is a special interest arbitration process, which consists of having the content of a first collective agreement defined by an arbitrator, when the parties cannot agree.

A first agreement arbitration can sometimes be a long process. But, in this case, Mr. Clément points out that the normative clauses had already been settled with the employer, which should simplify the task at arbitration. According to him, only the salary grid and annual salary increases remain to be settled.

“We are confident that an arbitration based on objectivity, rationality, will bring us something interesting – in any case more interesting than what we can do by negotiating with the SQDC currently”, opined M . Clement.

The president of the union is counting on the fact that the conditions eventually determined in arbitration for the two branches that have used them can then be extended to the other branches affected by the strike.

“Certainly for us, it would be quite an interesting indication for both parties, when an arbitrator comes to decree what the salary grid is. Afterwards, the SQDC would not have to legally respect this decision in the other branches, but I think that the absurdity of the SQDC and the Treasury Board in this should one day have its limits. And to say that an arbitration decision is not legitimate for the other branches would be altogether surprising,” Mr. Clement opined.

The recent change in the management of the SQDC does not seem to be the harbinger of a change of course on the management side.

“Despite the departure of Jacques Farcy, SQDC’s approach to the negotiation and the ongoing labor dispute remains the same, namely to find an airstrip to bring our colleagues back to work,” said the SQDC.

Note: the walkout does not affect the 54 SQDC branches whose workers are not unionized nor the 18 where the workers are members of another union.