Labour dispute at Montreal homeless shelter grows as management calls for government mediator

Management of a prominent Montreal homeless shelter is asking the Quebec government to appoint a concilliator to resolve an ongoing labour dispute.

The non-profit Accueil Bonneau has been at odds with its staff's union for weeks, saying the union's demands would balloon costs by 20 per cent.

In January, employees protested a decision to eliminate 11 frontline worker positions, who were replaced by security guards.

Management has refuted that version of events, saying the guards were working before the layoffs and that all employees were moved to new roles finding social housing for the homeless.

The current dispute is over contracts. Accueil Bonneau management said workers have asked for higher salaries and more time off, which they claim the shelter can't afford.

“We are a non-profit that survives on the very generous donations of our donors and on government grants. Accueil Bonneau already offers among the best working conditions in the sector,” said director Fiona Crossling. “It's impossible to increase our cost structure by 20 per cent. It would be morally wrong to do so.”

Union representatives said the staff wants more of a say in decision making.

“The major sticking point is the fact that the director of Accueil Bonneau makes decisions and imposes them without any input from the workers that are on the front lines,” said CSN Union president Jeff Begley.

A decision from the Quebec government on whether they will appoint a mediator is expected in the next few days.  

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