PSAC, union representing Postdoc’s at Queen’s pushing for a change

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

Queen’s University could soon be facing labour unrest.  According to the union representing 175 post-doctoral employees, conciliation talks broke off yesterday. The union is pushing for a fair wage and child benefits.

Monique Giroux moved to Kingston last year from Winnipeg for a Postdoctoral position at Queen’s University. Her daughter and husband came with her – a fresh start that has been harder than anticipated.

Monique Giroux – Postdoctoral Scholar, Queen’s University
“My husband has to essentially restart his career. He’s a middle school teacher and so he’s on the supply list again. And, that’s the case for a lot of postdoctoral researchers here who move with their families, is that they end up being the primary wage earners.”

That’s where the concern stems from.  Postdoctoral scholars spend thousands of dollars in education and years of schooling, to be paid a wage that, they say, barely makes ends meet.

Craig Berggold, President Public Service Alliance of Canada
“Postdocs who make 32 thousand dollars a year and have children are living in poverty. We have members who can barely make their rent while they’re doing top quality research here at Queen’s University.”

Giroux isn’t alone. Cristian Tolsa moved from Spain because of a postdoctoral opportunity.

Cristian Tolsa – Postdoctoral Scholar, Queen’s University
“It’s kind of a disappointment because we can make it to the end of the month but it’s not so easy. We can not save any money at all. Which is not ideal for our future hopes. If we ever want to buy a house..”

The bargaining team and the employer had a day of conciliation Wednesday with the Labour Relations Board, that, according to PSAC, came to a halt.

The union wants a contract with a higher wage and child care benefits.  The University says that in response it has tabled a comparable salary proposal, as well as a child benefit that other employees enjoy.

Dan McKeown, Interim Associate VP Faculty Relations Queen’s University
“We’ve offered to provide a fund for professional development, which is another of their expressed needs. And, we’ve come up with something quite innovative which is to provide them with direct access to a family physician.”

Craig Berggold, President Public Service Alliance of Canada
“We’re not seeing a good deal on the table at this time.”

Shannon Bradbury
“The union representing these employees says that they recently received a letter from a postdoc that says she isn’t making enough money to pay for rent, her student loan or feed her family, and is now going to the food bank. The union isn’t giving up and is holding a strike vote mandate next week, as well as a rally next Tuesday. Shannon Bradbury CKWS Newswatch Kingston.”

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