McGill University is illegally firing graduate students from their contracts as exam invigilators if they belong to the union representing striking teaching assistants. As well, the university is refusing to hire teaching assistants for this work because of the labour conflict with their union.

The two acts contravene Articles 14 and 15 of the Quebec Labour Code. The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill is in the process of launching legal proceedings that would force McGill to rehire students illegally fired from their jobs.

“McGill doesn’t pay teaching assistants enough to live on – that’s why our members are forced to find other employment on-campus,” noted AGSEM Vice-President Natalie Kouri-Towe. “By reneging on their contracts as exam invigilators the administration is trying to terrorize students into submission.”

AGSEM members currently earn about $ 22 an hour – far below wages for teaching assistants at the comparable research-intensive universities in Canada known as G-13 institutions, to which McGill always compares itself when calculating remuneration for administration or tenured faculty. But because the average McGill TA is only paid for 12 hours per week, they are forced to find other jobs, often as exam invigilators, to survive.

“For McGill to stoop to this level demonstrates the contempt the administration has for its students. More than that, it shows that McGill considers itself above the law,” said AGSEM President Salim Ali.

The TA union, which counts 2,000 members and is affiliated with the Fédération nationale des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN), will use every legal means to bring McGill to account.

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