Government contract offers in the health and social service sector | Unions don’t want a rerun of the same bad movie
December 21, 2022
Montréal— Unions representing more than 200,000 health and social service workers are united in their reaction to the employer’s contract offers for their sector. It is the shared view of the FSSS-CSN (Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux), APTS (Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux), CUPE-FTQ (Canadian Union of Public Employees), SQEES-FTQ (Syndicat québécois des employées et employés de service), FP-CSN (Fédération des professionnèles) and SPGQ (Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec) that the offers do not reflect the urgent need to improve working conditions for health and social service sector employees.
Ignoring the need to improve working conditions
While each of the unions tabled its own specific proposals, including solutions for improving working conditions, they all received the same offer. They find it regrettable that the government appears to be adopting the same strategy as during the last rounds of contract talks. It may claim to want to act quickly in its public pronouncements, but it’s making nebulous offers at the bargaining table. Rather than continue to fixate on creating parallel forums, which are likely to slow down contract talks and stall the introduction of essential measures, the government needs to reach a negotiated agreement with the unions on the steps that would help workers in the health and social service sector.
“The government still doesn’t seem to understand that all health and social service employees are bearing the brunt of the crisis in the system and not just people with specific job titles,” said the representatives of the FSSS-CSN, APTS, CUPE, SQEES-FTQ, FSQ-CSQ, FP-CSN and SPGQ. “When you concentrate on dealing only with the most difficult situations, you can sidestep the fact that distress and work overload are a reality for people in all job categories,” they continued.
“If we want better services for Quebecers, we need a major change of course to improve working conditions for all employees,” added the union representatives. “Given the complexity of the health and social service system, we need to work together on devising comprehensive, lasting and fair solutions so that we don’t displace current problems or generate new ones. Otherwise, we’ll just prolong and exacerbate the crisis.”
Troubling government offers
The government’s sector-specific offers include several worrisome measures, especially regarding work attendance. From one bargaining round to the next, the employer side keeps coming back to this issue with no regard for the structural causes of employee work absence in health and social services.
“The reason so many workers aren’t showing up is that the system is making them sick,” said the union representatives. “How can we provide Quebecers with quality care when we’re at the breaking point? If the government wants to beat up on exhausted employees again, we’re going to get in its way.”
FSSS-CSN, APTS, CUPE-FTQ, SQEES-FTQ, FSQ-CSQ, FP-CSN, SPGQ