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Firefighters boycotting 2017 World Firefighters Games in Montreal

07/13/2015 12:22 EDT | Updated 07/13/2016 05:59 EDT
The president of Montreal's firefighters union says he has convinced firefighters from around the world to boycott the World Firefighters Games in Montreal in 2017.

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It's the latest pressure tactic firefighters are using to protest changes to their pension that were made into law last year. The law forces municipal workers to pay more into their pensions.

It was passed amid a slew of government budget-slashing measures, intended to help combat a $5.8B provincial deficit.

Municipal unions are challenging the law in court.

But in the meantime, the firefighters union is urging firefighters around the world to boycott the 2017 games, hosted in Montreal, to put economic pressure on the city.

"It's not to embarrass the mayor. It's the only way to put pressure on the administration for discussion. That's the only thing we ask," said Union President Ronald Martin.

Originally, around 12,000 firefighters from 70 different countries were expected at the games. Now Martin says only a few thousand will come.

The union's options when it comes to protesting against the pension changes are limited, because firefighters are unable to strike.

"We don't have a lot of pressure tactics that we can use. We never put the citizens in jeopardy, ever. That's our goal. We always do our work properly and efficiently," said Martin.

However, last year, the City accused firefighters of intentionally delaying response times to fires as a form of protest. The arbiter of the labour relations board sided with the City, ordering the union and its leaders to "take all necessary measures" to ensure fires are responded to without delay.

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