Comment from an STM maintenance worker

A Metroblogging Montreal reader left this comment on Laiya’s post about the looming STM strike, and I thought that it deserved a wider audience. If any other STM employees happen to be reading, I encourage you to share your thoughts with us here.

Just to let you guys know, that maintenance people at the STM are not ONLY the people who clean the stations and garages. I work as a maintenance employee at the STM and my job involves repairing electronic equipment, which, with the aging of our metro, fails more often. We are asked to patch equipment that is over 40 years old with parts that we do not have. Our job just keeps on getting harder and harder over the years. Meanwhile, the personnel that retires is not being replaced/re-hired, so we end up with more and more work for the same salary.

It’s unfortunate that the strike affects the public, and personally, I am against it, BUT it is the only way that our employer and the general population will listen to us. We have tried talking to our employer, and they have closed their ears, saying that they cannot negotiate with us, even though our collective agreement has been expired since January.

I know that the majority of people are not on our side, but understand that this strike is not illegal, it has been allowed by our government. Essential services will continue, and the maintenance employees, although on strike, will still be working at maintaining the Montreal metro and repairing all of the obsolete equipment, so that you can get to work/school/etc on time.

I am not asking for sympathies, just for a bit of understanding. We do not want to take the population hostage, and believe it or not, but we are also left to ourselves when it comes to transportation, since we (dept I work for) start and finish at a time that essential services are not operational. I will be biking to and from work for the duration of the strike.

Hope we don’t end up going on strike, and that the STM has the decency to at least start negotiating with its employees, but if we do go on strike, rest assured that it’s not a vacation for us, on the contrary it’s more of a hassle than anything else.

Posted by: STM Guy at May 10, 2007 09:49 PM

20 Comments so far

  1. Ned Teller (unregistered) on May 11th, 2007 @ 10:15 pm

    Welcome to the real work. My company has not been replacing workers for years and my workload has been steadily increasing but I can’t go on strike.

    The STM’s money would be better spent upgrading their equipment than wasting it on salary increases.

  2. Ned Teller (unregistered) on May 11th, 2007 @ 10:16 pm

    Welcome to the real work. My company has not been replacing workers for years and my workload has been steadily increasing but I can’t go on strike.

    The STM’s money would be better spent upgrading their equipment than wasting it on salary increases.

  3. Paul (unregistered) on May 12th, 2007 @ 9:40 am

    Welcome to the real work. My company has not been replacing workers for years and my workload has been steadily increasing but I can’t go on strike.

    -Maybe you should look into forming a union. The “real world” only works this way when people don’t take control of their own situations and allow the owning classes to treat them poorly.

    The STM’s money would be better spent upgrading their equipment than wasting it on salary increases.

    -Because things are a more important resource than people? What kind of world do you live in?

  4. Ned teller (unregistered) on May 12th, 2007 @ 6:18 pm

    I live in the world of economic reality. What fantasy world do you live in?

    These maintenance workers want 2% above the inflation rate because their work is getting too difficult because of the STM’s aging equipment. Rather than frustrating these poor workers, isn’t better to replace the equipment. Replacing this obsolete equipment would also ensure a safer and more reliable system for the users.

  5. ladyjaye (unregistered) on May 13th, 2007 @ 1:49 am

    Well, that’s why the STM wants to get the new metro trains made… so that the Green line trains can be retired (notice how 9 times out of 10, when there’s a mechanic breakdown it’s one of the original trains, i.e. from the green line)?

    At least this time the strike would happen in the spring/summer. Definitely more manageable than in November like last time.

  6. Zana (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

    It’s now the evening before the strike – negotiations have stalled and the maintenance workers will be meeting at 7 PM to decide on whether to accept an “agreement in principle” or strike at midnight tonight. I have just spent the last couple of days at a friend’s place where one of those workers was also visiting. So I got her/their side of it first-hand.

    They have a tough job, one that most of us wouldn’t want. It’s the maintenance workers who, among other things, have to do the clean-up after a suicide (those “incidents” we hear about over the intercom in the metro) – apparently, there’s at least 1 per week these days. And all they are asking for in terms of money is a 2.5% raise – the company is offering 0.

    Personally, I don’t mind walking outside of “essential service” hours – if I had a bike, I would use that. I think the public needs to be made more aware of the working conditions that are at the root of this strike – yes, it will be an inconvenience, but as someone else has posted, it’s summer and we can manage. I stand in solidarity with the maintenance workers.

  7. Norm (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

    I try to understand both sides of a conflict. I understand that the working conditions for maintenance workers is below par, and that they need updated equipment / more workers – but how does increasing your salary facilitate this? Giving you more money means less money to spend on the updated equipment you need, and the salaries for the other workers.

    A 2.5% raise in your salary, calculating in starting wages being lower than what most people are making, could result in 3.5 – 4% more workers, thus relieving the workload on the workers. Alternately, you could get the equipment you so need…

    In the meantime, the rest of the population has to suffer.

    As a single income family, I have a hard enough time getting the money together each month to pay for my bus pass, which is now almost useless for me. I’ll (hopefully) be able to get into work in the morning, but then will be left stranded 15km from my house when the service ends at the end of the day.

    Sure, I could leave my job early… For about a week until my productivity starts showing the lack of those last hours to push out, then I lose my job. The only job paying for food on the table for my wife and child.

    What about people like us?
    What about people who need to get to the doctors?
    What about people who work outside of the essential hours?
    What about people who have no alternatives?

    We are the people who pay for the passes that keep you employed. Why not think about that one for a minute or two?

  8. H.S. (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

    Screw all you STM workers. You’re inconveniencing me tremendously and because of your damn selfishness, I will have to spend four hours walking all the way home on Wednesday. They should fire the lot of you and replace you with people who will work instead of complain. You get zero sympathy from me.

  9. Koz (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

    Here’s what people do when they don’t like their job: They quit and find another/go back to school/take evening classes.

    If you’re willing to waste your time (and other people’s) to go on strike, that means that:

    a) You don’t dislike your job
    b) You’re making quite a bit of money
    c) You have an unparalleled insurance package

    That established, we look at the complaints:

    -Crappy equipment
    -Too much work

    Then we look at the solution the strike is supposed to force:

    -A pay raise

    I’m not seeing the logic. How does making more money make it easier to repair outdated equipment and reduce workload?

    Hint: It doesn’t.

    What does it boil down to then? Because, given the facts we have, it just looks like greed.

  10. L.R. (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2007 @ 11:12 am

    If you were a STM worker,
    would you be thinking “ohh screw us, I don’t want a rise, I want to be nice with people which only remembers me when I f them” ?

  11. Alex (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

    As time passes, Montreal is becoming more dirty and expensive and basic services are becoming more shitty. I want to move to another city (maybe even country), where people work more and whine less. If the STM workers wanted a higher playing job, maybe they should have gone to university… Fuck them.

  12. Sally (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 7:51 am

    Let me start by saying I’m tremendously inconvenienced by this strike. I do not own a car, work outside rush hour and live a good hour and a half (walking) from my workplace.
    I think that the STM workers are right to strike. But what they’re asking for… well, I’ll get to that in a second.
    There’s a huge amount of wage polarization occuring right now where the rich are getting richer and it’s all being paid for by the average working stiff who has to work longer hours for less money and less benefits. You want a taste of where this is all going to go? Look south of the border.
    The point is that if people like Ned Teller continue to keep their heads down and noses to the grindstone, compromising family life and basic quality of life, the bosses will keep asking. And when you burn out, you will be replaced… but you will have set a precedent in terms of workload to which they will only add. Is this what we want? We, the majority who are financing CEO’s yachts and country houses?
    So when workload goes up and conditions get harder, what’s wrong with standing up? And WE, the public need to make a better attempt at understanding what’s going on because ultimately this is a problem common to us all. And here’s the biggest surprise–especially for those like Ned Teller who think this is the way it’s always been– this idea that corporations exist to make the top 1% rich and the rest of us miserable is a relatively recent phenomenon. One that ties in neatly with a rise in divorce rates, by the way.
    Pre-Raegan, the corporation took care of its employees and any extra profits were redistributed to those who’d helped raise them. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work?
    Now let’s examine the worker’s demands: I think asking for more pay is a normal knee jerk reaction. When more demands are made of us, the obvious thing we ask is additional compensation. It’s only later that we question the idea of “is this a sustainable workload?”
    What the public wants: more and better trains and buses and a more modern system is not something that’s going to happen in the short term. And what is the guarantee that the money (saved off the salaries of those who are already working very hard) will be invested wisely? Is there a deadline when the work will get easier, so management can say to workers, “hey, just hold on till XXXX and then the cavalry will come in.”? If not, why SHOULDN’T the workers strike for more pay until management can figure out a way to make their lives easier and also fulfill the STM’s mandate to provide better and more frequent transport to the public.
    And just so you know, I understand management is also sort of screwed here. THIS is why it’s so important for people like you and me to get involved and open up a frank dialogue. It’s the PUBLIC that’s the power player in this discussion. So we need to be compassionate to both sides and figure out something where everyone wins. STM workers are not our slaves and their demands are reasonable. It’s just that there needs to be more scrutiny and a sleeker plan for financing the public transit system.

  13. Mel (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 10:00 am

    I think you are greedy for wanting a salary increase. First of all, there are people with WAY harder jobs getting paid less money than you.

    $25/hour? That’s more than I think a maintenance worker is worth, especially for the STM. As I’ve seen, they do a horrible job at what they do already. Paying them more is just going to encourage them to slack off even more.

    I feel bad for the bus/metro drivers. They have to deal with angry STM customers. This time they’re not the ones striking.

    But most of all it sucks for us that commute. Just because YOU are unhappy with your job, doesn’t mean you should inconvenience us. Me having to leave work half an hour early just so I can catch the last metros and busses home is not my idea of fun.

    If you feel you are not getting paid enough, get another job. You can’t just whine every time you want more money. You have to find a job with the salary you want. People won’t accustom themselves and their wages solely for you.

    Besides, the STM hardly has enough money for that kind of stuff. Look how long it took them to finally get new metro stations. And there was even talk of it not happening. And when are we getting new metros? If anything, Tremblay is to blame for this fiasco. Where’s he putting all the money towards?

  14. Robert (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 5:56 pm

    Ummm am I the only one who remembers these guys finding a way to gouge the taxpayer out of a 7.8% raise over 4 year or something like that back in 2k3? People showing pitty for the working conditions of the STM workers that is hilarious. I have 2 relatives working for the STM and trust me their workload is far lighter then most people who do similar jobs outside the STM. Oh yeah did I mention the pay thing?? You guys are a joke, and should be fired. Not happy get a new job stop whining.


    oh and to the asshat who said this

    “If you were a STM worker,
    would you be thinking “ohh screw us, I don’t want a rise, I want to be nice with people which only remembers me when I f them?”

    What do you want a cookie? Booooo Fucking Hooooo no one remembers you, cry me a fucking river, your paid to do a job, stfu and do it you spoiled brat.

  15. Peter (unregistered) on May 24th, 2007 @ 9:24 am

    The STM workers are babies. They make more money then most people and they still bitch about their job.

    My father works in factories for minimum wage and he doesn’t have the population of Montreal to hold hostage.


  16. EatASausage (unregistered) on May 24th, 2007 @ 12:00 pm

    You retards need to take your stupid asses back to work. Someone’s gonna shoot one of you dumb fucks for screwing up everyones work schedules.
    Eat a dick loser, can’t wait to laugh when you and some of your friends are found bleeding all over.

  17. STM Guy (unregistered) on May 24th, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

    Instead of being on our side, the whole population is trying to crush us. They want us to lose our jobs or cut our wages in half. We are the spoiled brats of society, how dare we ask for a 2% increase. The nerve, the gall! That’s a $31 increase per week. Comes out to about $20 after taxes per week. Simply outrageous! Instead of going after the little people (US), why not go after the big empires, such as the oil companies which has our society in a testicular choke hold??

    Our salaries are exposed openly as if we were making millions of dollars. Geez, I make a bit over $50K per year, 35% less than what I used to earn in 2000 working for a private company 7 years ago. I am taxed close to 33%. What does that leave me? Not much. Oh yeah, the nerve of me, sorry, everyone in Montreal it seems makes minimum wage and I should be happy with what I have and should shut my mouth and let everyone control my destiny. Wrong. I won’t. I have the right to voice my opinion just as much as everyone else.

    Don’t you fools understand that if we, unionized workers have no more voice in this society, that everyone else who is not fortunate to be unionized (the little people) will suffer immensely?

    I am sorry if the users of the buses and metros make minimum wage, but frankly, it’s not my problem. I gave lots to society, and suffered my way up to get where I am at. I have been on both sides of the fence. I know how it is, I know how much it sucks, I know how it feels not be able to buy nice things for your children because you simply can’t afford it. Just because a portion of the Montreal society makes minimum wage, I don’t see how it should affect us. The rage and fury is misplaced over here. It should not be aimed at us, it should be aimed at our government for not stimulating the economy. All the good jobs are slowly leaving Quebec, to never ever come back. Instead, all the good jobs are being replaced by crappy telemarketing jobs and call center jobs. Sure unemployment is low and it all looks good on paper. How can anyone argue with an all-time low 2% unemployment? But does it talk about the satisfaction of the working population? No, it doesn’t. Of course you’ll generate rage, anger and revolt.

    Minimum wage is a joke. It shouldn’t exist. It is the reason why poor people stay poor. If minimum wage wasn’t legal, employers would be embarrassed to offer $8 an hour in this day and age.

    Why is everyone so revolted at us wanting a $31 raise on average per week? Seriously. Why?

    You want to truly be revolted? Go around NDG, Hampstead and Westmount also in Pointe-Claire and look at the houses there. There are literally thousands and thousands of homes that are all worth over $1 million dollars. To maintain a million dollar home, you need a very large salary, and I am not talking about a measly $50K per year salary. They probably spend $50K alone on maintenance and renovation fees per year. So why not be revolted at all of those people who have no humility and go out of their ways to show the world that they have made it?

    I spoke to a “cleaner” yesterday and he was voicing out his opinion about the strike and how the general population simply do not understand what cleaning Metros are all about. They think it’s an easy job and that anyone can do it. It’s a total different environment than, let’s say, cleaning an office. Totally. It’s very physically demanding.

    In offices, do you ever have to pick up shit from the floors? Or clean walls that have been smeared with human excrement? The cleaner that I spoke to does it on a regular basis. Metro personnel have to endure the sound of trains all day long. Know what kind of damage that does to someone’s hearing? Not to mention the air quality we breath. It’s full of dust and carbon particles. Sometimes I’ll spend 12 hours in the tunnels and feel sick out of my mind. I should just shut up, I have a $25/hr job. I risk getting hit or electrocuted by the 750V third rail every day. But yeah, I should just shut up, cash my jackpot of a salary, and of course, shut my mouth.


    STM Guy

  18. H.S. (unregistered) on May 25th, 2007 @ 12:04 am

    STM Guy, I think your response pretty much sums up why we don’t give a rat’s ass about you and why you and your ilk should be tarred, feathered, and blacklisted so that you never get a job again.

    “I am sorry if the users of the buses and metros make minimum wage, but frankly, it’s not my problem.”

    So let me get this straight: our measly salaries are “not your problem” and yet, you expect us to care about your financial woes. Yes, that’s going to happen. Your strike has already cost me a day’s salary so far in addition to additional transportation costs to get around. Who’s going to compensate me for that? You? Your union? Hell, no. This strike is costing me money and I certainly wasn’t the one using my bodily fluids and waste to paint my best approximation of Sistine Chapel artwork on the Metro walls. Why the heck should I be punished?

    Bottom line: you’re holding 1.3 million people hostage to force the government to cave in to your demands, inconveniencing theose people, costing them money, lousing up their schedules, and you expect those same 1.3 million people to support you in all this? Are you really that deluded or have you just gone completely insane?

  19. Timo (unregistered) on May 25th, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

    I’ve cleaned human excrements off floors and walls for minimum wage when I worked at Mc Donald’s. I don’t remember going on strike for it though. Work is not supposed to be easy, otherwise it would be called “Super Happy Fun Time”.

  20. arv (unregistered) on May 27th, 2007 @ 3:21 am

    Mayhaps if it was called “Super Happy Fun Time” the STM employees would not have gone on strike? It’s an idea worth tabling at the next STM meeting to prevent future work stoppage.

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