Tops and flops in the world of work in 2012: an inconclusive year

There’s no doubt about it, 2012 was anything but calm in terms of labour and employment. Below are some of the tops and flops noted by the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés.

The tops

  • The Syndicat des cols bleus de Montréal and the City of Montreal ratified an agreement three months before their collective agreement was scheduled to expire. Described as historic by both parties, this agreement was the outcome of eighteen months of negotiations. Bravo!
  • 2012 was a festive year for the world of work in Quebec. The ministère du Travail celebrated its 80th anniversary, while the Commission de relations du travail (Quebec Labour Relations Board) marked its 10th.

The flops

  • White Birch Papers Stadacona mill in the Quebec City region shut down its operations for more than nine months. On the verge of bankruptcy, the company asked its workers and retirees to make significant concessions. Workers agreed to a pay cut of some 10%, while retirees saw their annuities reduced by 30%.
  • Aveos Fleet Performance Inc., formerly owned by Air Canada, declared bankruptcy in the spring. The company’s closure resulted in the loss of 1,800 jobs in Canada, 1,200 of which were in the Montreal area.
  • Steven Harper’s federal government introduced special legislation to regulate labour relations in companies considered indispensible to the Canadian economy. This year, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt brought in back-to-work legislation for Air Canada pilots (March 12) and Canadian Pacific employees (May 28).

Unclassifiable

  • In 2012, the federal government began a reform of the employment insurance program that seems to suggest there may be some grey areas ahead for seasonal workers, particularly in the construction and tourism industries. More details on this reform should be available in early 2013.
  • After 40 months of dispute, the Au Roi du Coq Rôti restaurant in Sherbrooke finally reopened its doors on January 16.
  • The mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, made pension plans a priority in 2012. According to five major Quebec City Unions ‒ the Syndicat des cols bleus de Québec, the Fraternité des Policiers et Policières de la Ville de Québec, the Association des pompiers professionnels de Québec, the Alliance des professionnels et des professionnelles de la ville de Québec and the Syndicat des fonctionnaires municipaux de Québec ‒ the only issue that seemed to be settled during meetings with the different unions is that pension plans will be treated individually at the negotiating table.