Minister Jean Boulet has warned that if an investigation reveals that workers’ rights have been violated by the American company Sonder, which fired around 40 of its Montreal workers shortly after signing a collective agreement, the labor law will apply.
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Last week, Sonder announced the layoff of 250 of its employees, including 40 in Montreal. About twenty of this group are unionized.
Asked for a reaction, Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulet remained cautious. He would not say if the government would intervene, even if it gave the American company a $30 million loan in exchange for a promise to create 700 jobs in Montreal and invest $182 million.
“If the union has to make grievances trying to get union certification, they will go their way,” Mr Boulet said. Again, there is a burden of proof to fulfill, there are articles that are unambiguous in the Labor Code. You must not do anything that undermines workers’ freedom of association.”
“It is certain that we must ensure that the Labor Code is respected and if, after investigation, it turns out that the company’s true motivation is to avoid union certification, this is unacceptable and the Labor Code applies.”
In 2020, a union was founded by around 20 special call center employees, and a first collective agreement had just been signed.
Union leader Roxane Larouche alleges that workers in Montreal trained workers at a new call center in the Philippines before the company announced the closure of the Montreal call center.
The union does not rule out legal remedies.
For its part, the company has pointed out that the decision of the positions is not due to the decision of the workers to form a union, but to the current situation on the stock markets.
QS asks to cancel the loan
The government should cancel the financial aid for Sonder, says Quebec Solidaire, which castigated the loan as a very bad economic decision.
“Sonder’s public funding has not only failed to bring his company’s headquarters back here, but has helped displace dozens of people amid a livelihood crisis. The CAQ must apologize to Quebecers and withdraw immediately,” Solidarity MP Ruba Ghazal said in a press release.