Community groups in the borough of Montreal North are demanding action following a report detailing allegations of systemic racism against visible minority blue-collar borough employees.
“The employees are suffering from racism and the city is doing nothing to help them or support them,” said D-yana Bommier, co-ordinator at Regroupement d’intervenants et intervenants de origin
The groups are also calling for an independent investigation into the situation following the release of a damning report in April that brought to light allegations of overt and systemic racism against the employees.
Advocates for the workers say there have been complaints for years.
“(Finally) they had no other resources but to go on social media to denounce the conditions that they were facing in this borough,” said Will Prosper, co-founder of the Hoodstock, one of the Montreal North community groups pushing for action from the borough.
It was after the employees took to social media that the borough commissioned the study.
In it, the author, Angelo Soares, professor in the School of Management Sciences at Université du Québec à Montréal, wrote that “the allegations of racism that were exposed on the Facebook page are founded.”
“After having met and listened to the blue collar workers of the Montreal North borough, analyzed the documents, we believe that the employer, the city of Montreal, the management of the borough of Montreal North and the union must act,” Soares wrote.
The report also made seven recommendations. They include the application of the City of Montreal’s workplace respect policy, as well as the revocation of any disciplinary action against employees who complained on social media, since it was that complaint that alerted the borough and the union to the seriousness of the problem.
Community advocates for the workers say the employees should also be reimbursed for lost wages due to past suspensions. As part of the independent investigation, they want the city to support the creation of an independent body to ensure the recommendations are adopted. Group representatives don’t believe the borough is capable of getting to the root of the problem.
In addition, they want the borough to set up a phone line through which people can file complaints anonymously.
“Because right now they’re scared,” Prosper said.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante promised to do her part.
“We will contribute making sure that in Montreal North there’s been real change,” she said, “because we don’t want to create different types of workers.”
Global News reached out to both the borough and the union but didn’t hear back before deadline.