Another negotiation session is scheduled for Monday, 26 September, in the ongoing labour dispute between McGill administration and representatives of the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA).The MUNACA union, which has been officially on strike for almost a month, continues daily picketing of the University’s entrances. MUNACA, whose members include secretaries, lab technicians, and other administrative and support staff, is protesting cuts to its members’ annual wage increase among other issues.A recent official communication from the University claimed that conciliation sessions have made “progress on a number of outstanding issues,” though the duration of the strike remains indefinite.The strike at McGill mirrors similar labour situations at other Canadian universities; current economic dilemmas and consequent austerity measures have instigated intense nation-wide debates over employee wages and benefits.
This Monday, 26 September, the job search service Jobbook, www.jobbook.com, officially launched.The online enterprise was originally the subject of controversy at McGill University last winter when Zachary Newburgh, at that time the president of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), disclosed that he had also been working to pitch Jobbook’s services to other university student unions. Critics maintained that Newburgh was caught in a conflict of interest, and he was officially censured by the student council.Jobbook is a website that connects students to potential employers with a sorting algorithm that Jobbook’s creators claim is superior to similar websites such as Monster.com. Jobbook charges no fee to students to use its service, and charges employers only after they have successfully hired someone using the service.Jobbook held a reception on Saturday at their office in downtown Montreal to promote the website’s launch.Attendees jokingly referenced the film The Social Network and Mark Zuckerberg, who started Facebook while at Harvard University. Jobbook’s loft-style office contains a basketball hoop and video-game room, a nod to the casual business environment of today’s internet enterprises.Jobbook’s staff members were enthusiastic and optimistic about their start-up venture.Newburgh, who currently serves as Jobbook’s Vice-President for University Relations, laughed at comparisons to Facebook and Google, but added, “We [do] seem to be growing pretty quickly. In our first 24 hours, we had 4,000 students and recent graduates join Jobbook as members.”Although Jobbook’s staff is predominantly young professionals and students, the founder of Jobbook is actually 73-year old Quebec lawyer and real estate developer Jean de Brabant.De Brabant, an animated man of diverse interests, explained that after he conceived of Jobbook he researched other job sites and found them to be “user-unfriendly.” He envisioned a job service that would be not only simple to use but free of burdensome conditions and…