Health and social service contract talks | Unions sharply critical of measures that would make working conditions worse

June 28, 2023

Image Health and social service contract talks | Unions sharply critical of measures that would make working conditions worse

Montréal – Front commun unions representing health and social service employees say that Treasury Board president Sonia LeBel’s public statements on current bargaining talks are not in touch with reality.

"What the government is presenting as improvements are nothing but poorly designed stopgaps,” said spokespersons for the FSSS-CSN, FP-CSN, APTS, CUPE Québec-FTQ, SQEES-FTQ, and FSQ-CSQ. “The employer’s proposals contain wide-ranging attacks on our working conditions, with long-term implications. We’re still waiting for the government to signal its willingness to negotiate the meaningful improvements that workers are demanding.”

The unions are sharply critical of the fact that government leaders have spent more time trying to undermine union credibility in the public arena than coming up with solutions that would improve working conditions, conditions of practice, and services to Quebecers. Contrary to what Sonia LeBel recently asserted, union proposals are designed to improve the operation of health and social service institutions while ensuring that services are provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The unions aren’t simply paying lip service to goals such as putting an end to mandatory overtime; they’ve suggested concrete ways of reaching these goals, and they want to discuss them.

At present, employer and government representatives are maintaining demands that constitute a step backwards for workers. The normal work week would be extended in certain settings such as CHSLDs, for instance, and premiums and overtime provisions would be changed in ways that would penalize staff. Union representatives pointed out that setbacks in staff working conditions would be disastrous. To ensure the future of the public health and social services system and to meet the workforce challenges it is facing, concrete long-term solutions must be put in place to provide better working conditions.

Unions planning to step up their mobilization efforts

Unions remain focused on improving working conditions for the benefit of all Quebecers who rely on the public system for health care and social services. As contract talks continue throughout the summer, the unions are calling on the government to ensure that the employer is willing to make headway at the bargaining tables. Last April, Minister LeBel stated that she wanted to reach a settlement before the summer.

Labour organizations will continue to mobilize this coming fall. On Saturday, September 23, health and social service workers will demonstrate alongside people employed in schools and higher education at a major Front commun march in Montréal. All Quebecers are invited to join the march to preserve our public services.