Public Values

Quebec City outside workers, "cols-bleus", resist privatization of garbage collection

Media campaign underlines how other services can be privatized.

Fifty workers stand to lose their unionized jobsIn a campaign against the privatization of garbage collection in Quebec City, the union representing outside workers has launched a thirty-second French-language advertisement airing on a number of Quebec City radio stations. The ad denounces city mayor Régis Labeaume's decision to fully privatize city garbage collection services starting April 1.

Prior to amalgamation, garbage collection services were provided by unionized blue collar workers, the "cols-bleus". Now, the Labeaume administration is transferring garbage collection out of the hands of public sector workers, contracting it out to Gaudreau Environment. Fifty city workers stand to lose their jobs.

"With this media campaign, we want to inform people of the consequences of this decision. Once the city is stripped of its machinery and employees, it will no longer be able to tell private contractors that if they're too expensive, it'll take over," explained CUPE 1638 president Jean Lachance. "How great for the contractors to know that the city has no more garbage collecting equipment or workers! You can bet that prices will go up. And Quebec City residents will be the ones who pay the price of this ridiculous decision."

Staff representative Denis Plante believes privatization is actually not possible under the collective agreement with the city.

"The collective agreement is very clear. The city cannot privatize the garbage collection services we currently provide within the former city limits," he said, noting that "February 8 is an important date. On that day we will go before an arbitrator so he can render a decision by April 1, the day the announced privatization would start."

The union insists that this one issue is a "wrestling match" between blue collar workers and the city that could have serious repercussions in providing an opening to bring in broader privatization of all municipal services.

This issue is at the forefront at a time when there has been media attention about questionable contracts between municipalities and private businesses in Quebec.

Links and sources
  Radio advertisement (audio - French language)

Posted: February 01, 2010

  Public services
  Front lines
  Voices of privatization

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