Amazon accused of interfering with campaign in Montreal warehouse

Retail giant accused of spreading anti-union text messages and posters

Amazon accused of interfering with campaign in Montreal warehouse

A labour union in Quebec is accusing Amazon of interfering with workers' attempts to unionise - an allegation the retail giant is denying.

Confederations des syndicats nationaux claims Amazon has an anti-union messaging present at its warehouse in Montreal. Photos seen and reported by The Canadian Press revealed posters in Amazon warehouse's break room that read: "We encourage you to speak for yourself" and "We do not believe that we need a third party between us".

The Canadian Press further reported that it had seen text messages from the company delivered to employees' personal phones, urging them not to sign an online petition or get a union card. Federation vice-president David Bergeron-Cyr called Amazon's move an "intimidation" and called on the retail giant to respect Quebec labour laws.

According to David Bergeron-Cyr, the union's legal department has already sent the company two lawyer's letters for allegedly breaching labour rights. Quebec's Labour Code states that while employers can exercise free speech, they are not allowed to interfere with a unionisation campaign nor issue threats or promises.

Employers also cannot use their authority to encourage employees to adopt their views. Employees, on the other hand, should also have to the option of whether to receive an employer's messages about unions, it was reported.

Read more: Amazon Canada plans to hire hundreds amid pandemic

On the allegations, Amazon Canada spoke to The Canadian Press and refuted the accusations from the union. According to spokeswoman Ryma Boussoufa, the company does not believe that unions are the "best answer" for employees. However, she denied that their management attempted to interfere in the unionisation campaign. 

"No person in our organisation will ever force, intimidate, threaten, make promises or unduly influence our employees' decision to join a union, or not join a union, and any allegations of this nature are simply unfounded."

The conflict came as unionisation events are under way across North America. Unionisation efforts are taking place at Amazon sites in Alberta and Ontario, following the landmark success of employees in an Amazon warehouse in New York City in establishing a union.  

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