Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery will reopen, union and management to meet next week

Click to play video: 'Quebec labour minister pushes for agreement in Montreal cemetery strike'
Quebec labour minister pushes for agreement in Montreal cemetery strike
WATCH: There has been progress on the labour conflict at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery. The cemetery has been closed, burials on pause and now numerous families are desperate for the dispute to come an end. As Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, their calls to have Quebec intervene may finally be answered. – Mar 22, 2023

The Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery in Montreal will reopen for family members of the deceased on March 31.

The cemetery, which has been dealing with a strike by operations and maintenance employees, closed its gates in mid-January.

Michael Musacchio has visited his daughter’s grave at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery every weekend since her death in 2021. He and his family also visit for every holiday or special occasion, to decorate her tombstone – but their visits were recently put on hold.

“I’m actually tired,” he said tearfully. “I can’t believe I have to fight to go see my daughter. How can somebody say to you ‘no, you can’t come in?'”

The cemetery’s operations and maintenance workers went on strike on Jan. 12, after being without a contract for more than four years.

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The cemetery said that left them with no choice but to close the gates, because they wouldn’t be able to safely clear the cemetery’s 33 kilometers of roadways.

The strike also forced the cemetery to halt in-ground burials.

Numerous families waiting for their loved ones to be put to rest are desperate for the labour dispute to come to an end, some telling Global News on Tuesday they want the government to intervene.

Michelle Setlakwe, MNA for Mont-Royal-Outremont says she sympathizes with families.

On Monday, she wrote a letter to Quebec’s labour minister, Jean Boulet, asking that he step in.

“I think he has to follow the file very closely, because as the days and the weeks are progressing, the situation is just getting worse,” she said. “I’m encouraging him to use all the tools at his disposable to encourage the parties to negotiate and come to an agreement so that this work conflict comes to an end once and for all.”

Management and the union representing employees haven’t sat down for negotiations since Jan. 31.

“They have to sit at the negotiating table, work with the conciliators and find a solution and an agreement in principle as quickly as possible,” said Boulet.

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The union says they received a message from their conciliator on Wednesday morning saying a meeting between both parties has been scheduled for March 28.

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