Closed-door mediation fails between City of Montreal and firefighters

The city has filed a complaint to the province’s labour relations board saying that firefighters are deliberately slowing down response time to some calls as a form of protest to Bill 3.

City accuses firefighters of using response time as a pressure tactic in the ongoing pension reform protests

FILE PHOTO: Montreal firefighters are accused of slowing down response time as a form of protest to Bill 3, Quebec's pension reform bill. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

Quebec’s labour relations board is holding a public hearing Friday evening, after hours of closed-door mediation talks between the City of Montreal and its firefighters failed to resolve a dispute over firefighters' response time.

The two sides went into mediation after the City of Montreal filed a complaint, saying that firefighters are deliberately slowing down response time as a way to protest against Bill 3.

The city alleges the average response time to some types of emergency calls started rising at the beginning of the conflict over the pension reform bill. It also alleges that firefighters have cut back on some fire prevention services as a form of protest.

Firefighter union president Ronald Martin said he was surprised the city took the step of filing a complaint with the board. The union said earlier that it believes the city's response has been politically-motivated.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said on Friday morning that he didn't believe the firefighters were respecting their collective agreements or their contract with the city.

"They're going overboard," he said.

Friday evening's public hearing is expected to last all evening, and resume Saturday morning.