Monday, September 25, 2023

Public sector negotiations: Common Front wants strike mandate

Unable to find common ground in the Quebec government for months, leaders of the Public Sector Inter-Union Common Front, which is negotiating for 420,000 workers, will begin consultations next week with the aim of get a mandate for an unlimited general strike.

In a press release, the CSN, the CSQ, the APTS and the FTQ, which are united in the negotiation of a voice to change collective agreements in the public and parapublic sectors, announce that their members will be called to decide democratically, by secret ballot, a mandate that allows the triggering, at the appropriate time, of a strike that may reach an unlimited general strike.

General meetings and votes will take place from September 18 to October 13.

The mandate that the Common Front intends to propose to its members includes several warnings to be fired before resorting to a general strike. Walk days or isolated or collective strike sequences can also be part of the arsenal offered by union members.

The Common Front, however, does not include strikes that only affect one sector at a time. So we should expect, if the negotiations in Quebec do not progress, strikes that will simultaneously affect many sectors such as health and education, for example.

It is important for the common front: first to show the unity of the common front and, second, to show that the strikes will be national, therefore in all the sectors of activity that we represent explained the vice-president of CSN, François Énault, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

A important demonstration also scheduled for September 23 in Montreal, on the sidelines of the tour of the general assembly.

An autumn event ahead

After nearly a year of negotiations, the Treasury Board and state union members were unable to reach an agreement.

The impasse is that Prime Minister François Legault himself said he was afraid of “strikes” and “disruptions” last week to the extent that state workers have the right to strike at the end of September.

The collective agreements expired on March 31.

The main points of retention are about salary increases. In a context where inflation and the housing crisis impoverished households, the Treasury Board stuck to an offer of 9% increase over five years and a lump sum of $1,000.

That was considered insufficient, however insultof the workers of the Common Front.

Actual and forecast inflation from 2022 to 2027 total 16.4%. Finally, we propose that the 420,000 workers represented by the Common Front will be poorer by 7.4%.we read in the inter-union press release.

The 9% offer fell sharply among union members after giving 30% salary increases this year to members of the National Assembly and 21% most recently to police officers from Sûreté du Québec.

We have the right to ask protested the president of the FTQ, Magali Picard, pointing out that 78% of the 420,000 workers in the negotiation are women.

In addition to the salary, criticized by the unions multiple attacks against pension plans that force state employees to work longer to combat labor shortages.

We are really in a dialogue with the deaf (…) Concretely, at the table, we are only talking about government solutions, which is to keep people working longer, by changing the rules of the plan in retirement, and by increasing the number of hours. per week for certain categories of work mourned the president of the Alliance of Professional and Technical Personnel in Health and Social Services (APTS), Robert Comeau.

If the government wants to be an employer of choice, as it claims, this should be reflected in its offers. (…) If the government had proposed real improvements, we would not be here today.

The President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, quickly responded to Common Front’s press release. To adequately negotiate, you must have valid bases: contrary to what the Common Front claims, the average salary of its members is not $44,000, but $61,000 for full-time workers. he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

In government, we strive to respect the ability of taxpayers to pay. On Friday, François Legault stated that he sees it as important that the salary increase covers inflation, which should be 11.5% in the next five years, according to the Ministry of Finance.

There are unions like FIQ who are asking us for an increase of 24%. In fact, we manage Quebecers’ money. We don’t have the capacity to pay there he said, adding that there is no question of increasing the tax.

The FIQ is not part of the Common Front, but now it is also in negotiations with the government.

Demonstration by workers from the Interprofessional Health Federation on Wednesday in Montreal.

My hope is that it will be resolved as soon as possible and in the most harmonious way, without affecting the services of the population.added the Prime Minister.

François Legault also wants to put in place incentives to encourage nurses to shift at night, on weekends and in certain regions.

On Thursday, the Autonomous Education Federation, which represents 65,000 teachers, cut its demands in half in a bid to advance negotiations with the government.

Nation World News Desk
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