Austerity in Quebec

Civil servants occupy Bombardier offices to protest executive bonuses

Professionals working for the Quebec government accuse the Couillard Liberals of wasting public money

The corporate offices of Bombardier in Montreal were occupied by a group of angry government employees for roughly half an hour this afternoon. The SPGQ, a union representing professionals working for the government of Quebec, decided to occupy the offices of the aerospace company to highlight what they describe as the misplaced priorities of the current Quebec Liberal government.

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Over $1.3 billion in government subsidies have been given to Bombardier since 2016, including $1 billion from the Quebec government. The company has used some of the money to hand out big raises and bonuses to their executives, resulting in “dramatic increases in executive pay.”

Chanting “Argent public, services public,” "Arrêtons austérité, occupons Bombardier!" and “Les amies des Libéraux paient pas assez d’impôts!” several hundred people participating in the publicly advertised union demonstration took a detour into the lobby of Bombardier’s Montreal offices at roughly 12:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Around 30 union members were sent ahead to make their way up to the 29th floor undercover, where Bombardier’s executive suites are located. They unfurled a banner and chanted, as their colleagues downstairs occupied the lobby. They spoke briefly with Olivier Marcil, Bombardier’s vice-president of external relations, to express their concerns.

The entire incident took less than a half hour, but the union’s fourth vice-president, David Bernans, hopes it will spur more criticism of the corporate bailout.

“Our members include accountants and auditors whose job is to make sure that public money is spent correctly. So when we see $1.3 billion in public money going to pay for salary increases for executives at Bombardier, that’s clearly a waste of public money. It adds insult to injury that at the bargaining table what they’re offering our members [in terms of pay raises] is below inflation.

That money needs to be spent on public services, not on Bombardier.”

According to Bernans, professionals working for the Quebec government make 23 per cent less than professionals in other public administrations, and as a result we risk losing highly-qualified public servants to other jurisdictions.

“It’s because of professionals that we have clean air and water, roads that are safe to drive on, a functional education system, protection of the French language and so much else that we take for granted. If we start losing people because of this pay gap those services will suffer.”

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