Health and social service contract talks | Government puts an end to double rate for overtime pay, fuelling workers’ anger

November 03, 2023

Image Health and social service contract talks | Government puts an end to double rate for overtime pay, fuelling workers’ anger

Montréal — Unions belonging to the Front commun and representing workers in health and social services are sharply critical of Treasury Board president Sonia Lebel’s decision to put an end to overtime at twice the regular rate of pay as of November 4. The double rate for overtime was established during the public health crisis and the employer had even suggested it could become permanent, before reneging on this offer in October 2023.

“What happened since last December to make the government think these incentives are no longer needed?” said representatives of the FSSS-CSN, FP-CSN, APTS, CUPE-Québec (FTQ), SQEES-FTQ and FSQ-CSQ. “Have waiting lists gotten shorter? Are people making fewer visits to emergency rooms? Has mandatory overtime become unusual? Minister LeBel is reversing on the recognition granted to workers who provide services beyond normal work hours. Once again, she’s showing us that she’s completely out of touch with the needs of our public system, and she’s exacerbating the labour shortages that are bringing the system down.”

Employer goes back to square one

“Our counterparts at the bargaining tables have stepped back on one of the few proposals that was in line with workers’ demands. They say it’s because they’ve established priorities among their demands,” added the union spokespersons. “This will certainly not help us make progress in current negotiations. On the contrary, it’s fuelling the anger of workers who continue to use all of their strength to hold our public system together.”

The proposal to keep the double rate for overtime has been withdrawn for every class of personnel except nursing personnel working in a 24/7 department identified by the government (emergency, critical care, CHSLDs, Maisons des aînés, alternative seniors’ residences, and mental health). The government is creating a serious injustice at a time when the burden of overtime is carried by all workers in the public system.

As 420,000 Front commun workers get ready to carry out their first day of strike action on November 6, putting an end to overtime paid at twice the regular rate will add fuel to the fire instead of making a settlement more likely. Unions are asking the CPNSSS (the management bargaining committee for the health and social services sector) to show its good faith by providing overtime pay at twice the regular rate for all workers in health and social services.