The maintenance workers in the public transport workers' union in Montreal (STM) have voted about 98% in favor of staging a strike during the Canadian Grand Prix in three weeks' time. The metro is the only effective way to get the some...
The maintenance workers in the public transport workers' union in Montreal (STM) have voted about 98% in favor of staging a strike during the Canadian Grand Prix in three weeks' time.
The metro is the only effective way to get the some 115,000 spectators to and from the track, located on Ile Ste. Helene in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. Car traffic is normally already congested, despite the vast majority of people using the metro, nor would the island's parking capacity be able to deal with a substantially higher number of people driving to the race.
The strike threat derives from a dispute over pension fund contributions by the transit commission: as the pension fund has a C$98M surplus, compared to the C$44M legal maximum, the commission wants to redirect this year's C$30M employer contribution toward transit infrastructure improvements instead. The other transport workers, including office staff and drivers, have agreed to stop the employer contributions for three years.
The union president, Gaetan Chateauneuf, claims that timing the strike for the Grand Prix weekend only is really intended to be a nice gesture: "This is a first move to make a big impact on the employer without affecting workday commuters as much."
In fact, the primary reason for the union to select the race weekend for the strike appears to be the fact that the public transport is classified as an essential service during the week, so the union picked the date with the highest impact and level of disruption.
According to Chateauneuf, the strike will begin at 3 PM on Friday June 16, abd last until 11 PM on Sunday June 18. With negotiations effectively stalled, the primary hope for Formula One fans now rests with Montreal's Essential Services Council: will the council agree to declare public transport an essential service for the Grand Prix weekend as well?