Building Maintenance Decrees
23 October 2016
Building Services is governed by two Decrees in the province of Quebec: one in Montreal and one in Quebec. The Montreal Decree covers the southeast of the province from Outaouais to la Mauricie and l’Estrie. The Quebec Decree covers the north and east of the province: Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Mauricie and Amiante up to the Côte-Nord, the Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Gaspésie.
The application of the Decree mechanisms are quite complex but can be summarized as follows. First, a union representing employees of public building maintenance negotiates a collective agreement with an association representing maintenance companies. Then, the union and the employers’ association ask the Government to enact a law (decree) which obliges all companies, unionized or not, to apply the financial provisions of the collective agreement: wages, vacation, holidays, sick leave, personal leave, working hours and bonuses. An independent organization ensures compliance of each of the decrees: the Joint Committee. The Board of Directors of each Joint Committee consists of an equal number of union representatives and employers’ association representatives. The largest and most representative union in building maintenance in Quebec is the SEU 800. At the end of the collective agreement, the parties renegotiate and ask the Government to adopt a ruling (decree) amending the previous decree in accordance with the outcome of the negotiations.
Decrees were created at the request of the SEU 800 to prevent non-unionized companies getting contracts by bidding lower because they pay their employees less. Without the Decrees, unionized companies would lose their contracts and their employees would lose their jobs. All jobs in building maintenance would be close to minimum wage.
Furthermore, it should be noted that collective agreements include many more rights and benefits for our members than the decrees alone, including the right to grieve and arbitration proceedings, the right to be defended by the union, seniority, rules for promotions, bumping right for loss of contract, rules on health and safety, group insurance, etc.
It is thanks to the SEU 800 that building maintenance workers benefit and will continue to benefit from decent working conditions. Through its actions with employers in the sector, through its involvement in the administration of Decrees and Joint Committees and through its interventions with the Government, the SEU 800 is the only valid speaker to maintain and improve the rights and benefits of workers in this difficult area of work.