April-May 2011

Members of the AMUSE bargaining team include (from left) Sheehan Moore, David Howden, Fariduddin Attar Rifai and Charmaine Borg who has since left the committee. She just got elected as the new NDP MP for Terrebonne-Blainville in the recent federal election. Absent from the photo but also on the bargaining team is Hope Makena.

The newly accredited Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) has started negotiations with the University in view of establishing its first collective agreement. Accredited in January 2010, the union represents some 1,600 casual or temporary workers. It is a directly-chartered local of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

AMUSE president Fariduddin Attar Rifai is himself a part-time employee of McGill, working on average 20 hours a week in Printing Services. He provides coordination and support for the University’s copier fleet. Fariduddin is also in his first year working on his Masters degree in Medieval Islamic Philosophy. Before that, he earned his Bachelor’s degree at McGill, majoring in Philosophy and the Western Religions with a minor in English Literature. As president of AMUSE, his mandate is to administer the operations of the union and represent the varied interests of an eclectic mix of members.

Fariduddin explains what attracted him to his role as president of AMUSE: “I was first attracted to the basic intentions and ideals behind the unionization efforts, but was not actively involved on campus during the first few years of undergraduate studies, so when AMUSE was accredited in early 2010 I thought this was perhaps my chance to finally contribute something useful. I’ve been working at McGill since I began my studies, so the sorts of issues and concerns that AMUSE stood for is very close to my own personal and academic experience at McGill. I’m quite honoured to be in a position of representing the interests of a membership as diverse and complex as AMUSE’s.”

AMUSE members often replace full-time staff on a temporary basis. Around 65% of its membership are students, most of whom are employed on a part-time basis, while the remaining 35% are non-student workers. As stated on its website, AMUSE’s mission is to represent the interests of its members on general working conditions at McGill, providing advocacy and information on labour-related issues.

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