Quebec labour tribunal orders nurses’ union to stop threatening mass resignation
A Quebec nurses’ union’s threat to announce the mass resignation of several hundred of its members as a pressure tactic is illegal, a Quebec labour tribunal has ruled.
In a decision released Saturday, the Tribunal administratif du travail ordered the Mauricie and Centre-du-Quebec chapter of the Federation interprofessionnelle de la sante du Quebec union to stop encouraging the mass resignation, which it described as an “illegal concerted action, prejudicial to a service to which the population is entitled.”
The tribunal noted the union has been working to gather the signatures of 500 nurses who are ready to resign over the Mauricie-Centre-du-Quebec regional health authority’s scheduling changes.
Workers, the decision read, have also been refusing to input some data into patient files. The changes the union is protesting include the obligation to work a certain number of weekend shifts.
In a written decision, Judge Myriam Bedard ordered the union and its members to stop both pressure tactics, which could cause harm to essential health services.
Bedard ordered union members to “not resign in the goal of participating in the collection action and to withdraw their resignations presented in this context of pressure tactics.” They’re also ordered to fill in data properly.
The union has argued the decision to resign is a protected individual right that can’t be forbidden.
But Bedard ruled that, in this case, the threatened resignations are a “collective action” aimed at paralyzing services, rather than a private decision. The ruling noted the resignations will only be presented once 500 workers have signed on, and union members have agreed to respect the seniority of their peers who resign.
It’s also likely that those who are tendering their resignation don’t actually intend to quit, it read.
“This resignation process is more like a disguised strike,” Bedard wrote.
Bedard also ordered the union to “immediately and publicly” indicate whether it intends to comply.
The union wrote on its Facebook page that it was “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision, adding it would discuss the matter at a general assembly on Monday.
The union also rallied outside a hospital in Drummondville on Sunday to protest what it described as the employer’s “unilateral decision to modify their employment contract,” which will force nurses to work duties they hadn’t done in years.
The workers “will not let themselves be intimidated or muzzled by a repressive employer that uses the (labour tribunal) to silence them,” the union said in a statement published on its website.
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