NEWS
08/18/2014 07:56 EDT | Updated 10/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Hundreds protest against Bill 3 outside Montreal City Hall

Hundreds of municipal workers, mostly firefighters, gathered outside Montreal City Hall Monday evening before the public council meeting to show their discontent over the proposed Bill 3 — which would make changes to their government pensions.

The air was smokey outside City Hall as the public employees waved placards and blew horns before getting inside the building.

The protesters got inside the council chamber minutes before 7 p.m. — when the public meeting was set to begin.

They threw paper — excerpts of their collective agreement — around the chamber, as well as onto the street outside City Hall.

City councillor Marc-André Gadoury says a protester threw water on him and punched him in the side.

Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Mayor Russell Copeman tweeted a picture of the chamber, and called the actions “disgraceful.”

The council meeting was delayed.

Hearings on Bill 3 to start this week

The protest comes as hearings into Bill 3 are set to begin on Wednesday in Quebec City.

Municipal workers are upset that they would have to pay a greater share of their pension if the bill is passed in order to make up for a deficit.

The mayors of the island of Montreal's 15 suburban municipalities say municipal pension reform is a necessary step to wrestle down inflated pay packages for city workers.

The suburban mayors have issued their support for Bill 3..

The association’s president and Westmount Mayor Peter Trent said ballooning municipal pension deficits are just part of a larger problem.

“The municipal employees in Quebec make 38 per cent more than the rest of the public sector. That's the problem we're dealing with. A large amount of that difference is comprised of pension fund benefits that are more generous than anyone else's. But it's the overall problem. And how to get  that 38 per cent down to a more reasonable number is our challenge,” he said.

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