Zoo strike: A humiliating reminder for Quebec unions

Zoo strike: A humiliating reminder for Quebec unions

Union workers at Granby Zoo accept strike mandate. Around ten days of walkouts could affect the company in the coming weeks. I’ll leave you with why. Negotiations move so slowly that the boss doesn’t understand… a familiar refrain.

From the beginning, union spokesmen have been leading on one important point: No animals will be harmed by the strike. CSN’s Denis Beaudin wants to calm things down: “Be assertive […] Despite the strike order, the staff’s priority is always the welfare of the animals, and no animal is neglected.

Because in 2024, animal welfare has become a highly sensitive issue among people. Stories about abused animals reach more readers than stories about DPJ. Talk to the elected officials of the municipality of Longueuil who have to announce a plan to kill white-tailed deer in Michel-Chartrand Park.

Those responsible for union strategy understood that any compromise on animal welfare would burnish their support in public opinion. It is unclear whether animal safety is guaranteed by essential services maintained by some union members or simply by the work of managers. In this second case, the union takes credit for the action of others.

They starved to death

In Quebec, one cannot discuss the reality of labor conflict at a zoological institution without a painful reminder. A humiliating reminder of Quebec Union history that we seem to have quickly forgotten…

In March 1980, two dolphins at the Montreal Aquarium starved to death during a blue-collar strike. According to the reports I have been able to find, they were two women: Fanny and Brigitte. The latter was in the making.

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Yes, for the little ones, Montreal already had an aquarium like most big cities. It was launched under its leadership for Expo 67 with a focus on marine biology. It was eventually dissolved in disgrace.

Blue collar workers

The Nilgiris protest lasted for more than a month. This union was known to be one of the most radical in its methods. A few years later, the same blue-collar workers broke down the door of Montreal City Council with a ram. A scene suitable for the Middle Ages! (Judging by blue-collar collective bargaining agreements, these methods seem to work.)

A few weeks before the dolphins died, the fisheries management issued reports on essential measures for their survival. But in vain. The deaths of these two marine mammals were not prevented. This was the beginning of the end of the fishery.

My girlfriend’s nostalgia for this era that marks her childhood often reminds me of the sad and uncomfortable nature of this part of our history that is so quickly forgotten.

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