|Picket line by workers at McGill University in Montreal Dec. 2, three days before strikers approved contract with wage increases. Fight won support from students and other unions.|
The union website proclaims Together, stronger! Workers who spoke to the Militant echoed that sentiment.
This has been a life-changing experience, said Martha Elvir. If I see someone on strike now, I would look at them differently and show them support.
Going on strike was the only way to stand up against the administration, said Lam Luday, who has worked 23 years in the biochemistry department. We didnt have a choice and we are stronger now.
Lisa Mayes, a young worker at McGill, said the experience had strengthened the individual. We became stronger in our self-awareness, what we are capable of doing. You could definitely see how important it is to have a union. Over the next five years well be paying attention to whether McGill honors the agreement.
The support staff are members of the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association, which has ties to the Public Service Alliance of Canada. They include IT technicians, clerical workers and library assistants. They had been working without a contract since November 2010 with salaries and conditions inferior to other universities in Quebec.
Early on in the strike courts granted McGill injunctions banning picketing within 80 feet of many campus locations and picketing at any off-campus events.
The court injunctions really got people mad, said Jo-Ann Bader, with 40 years in the medical department.
The struggle won support among students on the campus, a number of whom wrote articles backing it. Students from across Quebec welcomed hundreds of strikers when they participated in a 20,000-strong student demonstration against tuition hikes Nov. 10.
Several unions organized solidarity picket line visits. Construction workers at the new hospital site, which will be part of university facilities, refused to cross a one-day picket line organized near the worksite by the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association.
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