Public sector contract talks | Collective agreements set to expire: As the weather heats up, we’re getting ready to spring into action!

March 30, 2023

Image Public sector contract talks | Collective agreements set to expire: As the weather heats up, we’re getting ready to spring into action!

Québec City – Nearly 2,000 activists from the health and social service system, the school sector and higher education gathered today at the Centre des congrès de Québec for a Front commun rally to highlight the impending expiry of the public sector collective agreements and talk about plans to step up the pace of mobilization.

“Together as one! – the message is clear,” said CSN first vice-president François Enault, CSQ president Éric Gingras, APTS president Robert Comeau, and FTQ president Magali Picard. “This rally is an opportunity to forge links, exchange ideas, and discuss the issues and strategies around the contract talks. But above all, it’s an important step in mobilizing our forces for the 2023 round of bargaining.”

“We’re ready to mobilize our forces and we’ll be out there to remind the government that our aim is to enhance the quality of services and make them more accessible by improving working conditions and giving workers wage increases that will allow them to make real gains and provide permanent protection against inflation,” the union leaders said. “We extended a hand to the government and now we expect the government to do better than the offers it tabled this week, which do not amount to any improvement at all; they actually serve to make workers poorer. It takes a lot more than “work reorganization” and “flexibility” to mitigate the devastating impact of labour shortages on the daily lives of everyone who works in the public sector. We must reinvest in the public sector at a level commensurate with the gravity of the situation,” the union leaders continued.

The Front commun stressed that Quebecers value public services and recognize the need to reinvest in them. The pandemic showed the extent to which public sector workers make a difference in the daily lives of Quebecers. But there is an obvious disconnect when the government is lowering taxes and talking about restructuring while the Front commun is speaking out against the breakdown of services, the flight of expertise, and the difficulty of attracting new employees. "Our people are exhausted, that's entirely clear. But the government should not underestimate their determination and ability to mobilize,” the union leaders added, while underscoring the key role the Front commun plays in the current context.

“It was our members who urged us to stand Together as one,” noted the union leaders. “They asked us to work together, in solidarity, to offer a counterweight to the government's divisive strategies, which only harm the public sector. Because, it is these women and men who pay the price every day for the lack of long-term vision for our schools, our centres, our hospitals, our integrated health and social service centres (CIUSSS), our colleges, etc. Given the healthy state of public finances, there’s really no excuse for the government not to table new, genuinely improved offers.”

"And make no mistake: these contract talks must meet the needs of the 420,000 workers we represent,” the union leaders said. “Quite apart from the CAQ's political agenda, there are hundreds of equally vital job titles left high and dry by the government's offers. Each person’s work has an impact on everyone else’s work – it's an ecosystem. And, yes, we intend to promote and negotiate a fair settlement for all Front commun members. It's a matter of respect,” they concluded.”

 The demands in a nutshell

With respect to wages, the Front commun is demanding the application of a permanent annual CPI-(Consumer Price Index)-based indexing clause, as well as a general catch-up pay increase.

  • For 2023: an increase of $100 per week for all workers OR CPI + 2 % (whichever is more beneficial)
  • For 2024: CPI + 3 %
  • For 2025: CPI + 4 %.

The Front commun is also bringing various other demands to the central bargaining table, particularly concerning:

  • retirement
  • parental rights
  • regional disparities
  • group insurance

A few facts on the issues at the bargaining table

  • Average salary of Front commun public-sector employees: $43,916
  • Wage lag: -11.9%
  • Compensation lag: -3.9%
  • Percentage of workers represented by the Front communwho are women: 78%

For more information on the current contract talks:

The Front commun

Together, the CSN, CSQ, FTQ and APTS represent over 420,000 public-sector workers employed by the Québec government in schools, health and social services, and higher education. The collective agreements will expire on March 31, 2023.