UPDATED AGAIN - NDP and NDP-Quebec - Not actually "yours in solidarity," it turns out.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, I’m now officially confused, but it sounds like I may not be the only one, so that’s comforting, at least. From the comments, a statement from Robin Kers, president of COPE Local:

The statement purportedly made by the Federal Secretary of the NDP to Kady O’Malley is inaccurate. No agreement was reached “early last week” and to the best of our knowledge the hearing scheduled for September 16th has not been “called off”.

While agreement in principle was reached on many issues Friday afternoon, there is no formal agreement until the NDP Consent to Judgment, the terms of the proposed agreement, and the consequent tearing up of one collective agreement (in favour of another) is approved by la Commission des relations du travail Quebec.

La Commission may prefer to render judgment in the action filed as it stands and require the (Federal) NDP to take responsibility for the collective agreement currently in place for employees of the NDP Quebec Section.

UPDATE – I just got off the phone with NDP federal secretary Eric Hebert, who told me that the dispute was actually resolved early last week, and that the hearing has been called off. Which doesn’t fit with the September 12th update on the union site, so I’m trying to get in touch with them to find out what’s going on. I’ll update further when I have more to report.

Okay, I’m valiantly trying to stick to my day-off-with-no-election-thinking, but this is … interesting.

Apparently, the federal NDP is about to be hauled before a labour relations board after pulling the plug on one of its Quebec offices, which, according to federal secretary Eric Hebert, didn’t “meet the objectives of the federal office in the present context and  … marginalizes the important work of the Section.”

As a result, three Montreal-based staffers were informed that, as of July 26th, they’d be laid off, although with “all of their rights and entitlements under the collective agreement”, including overtime and vacation pay. After the staffers launched a grievance, the original layoff notice was retracted, and replaced with a second notice: they were still being laid off, but as of August 5th, not July 26th – and that those benefits that were supposed to be honoured, like overtime, could no longer be guaranteed because the federal party had failed to send along the $36,000 that was to cover the Quebec office operating costs for the second quarter.

As per associate NDP-Quebec president Micheline Montreuil: “Although it would be logical to think that the NDP will take all action required to pay any amount due by the Québec Section for political and administrative reasons in order to avoid bankruptcy of the Québec Section, we have no assurance to this effect.”

That was enough for the local to file a complaint with the Quebec Labour Relations Board – which it did, on July 18th, which is where the whole imbroglio is set to spill out next week, just in time for week two of an election in which the party has pinned not inconsiderable political hopes on turning the rest of Quebec an Outremont shade of orange.

So – is this getting any play in the Quebec media? Or has the irony of the NDP experiencing labour pains gotten lost in translation?

Oh, and speaking of Outremont, the final bulletin from the union – posted on Friday – claims that one of the embattled Quebec section employees has been “obliged to file a grievance” on alleged non-payment of overtime and expenses related to  …. the 2007 Thomas Mulcair campaign. (Many thanks to the ITQ reader who dropped me the URL by email.)

(Full disclosure: I know very, very little about the intricacies of Quebec labour law — or labour law in general, for that matter — and even less about union politics, although I did, at one point, join in a rousing chant of “So! So! So! Solidarite!” while on the picket line during the CBC lockout.)

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