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Public-sector contract talks | Front commun workers will strike on November 6

October 26 2023

Public-sector contract talks | Front commun workers will strike on November 6 - APTS

Montréal – November 6 is the date on which 420,000 Front commun workers in schools, health, social services and higher education will go out on strike for the first time, for a period of one day. Together as one throughout Québec, they will be sending the government a strong warning that it’s time to make the Front commun a substantial offer.

Through social media, the Front commun learned this week that the government intends to table a new offer this Sunday, October 29. “We’ll wait to see the offer before we make any comment on it,” said CSN first vice-president François Enault, CSQ president Éric Gingras, FTQ president Magali Picard and APTS president Robert Comeau, speaking on behalf of the Front commun at a press conference in Montréal this morning. “One thing we can say, though, is that the government has dug itself into a hole and there’s only one way to climb out. It has to come up with a substantial offer, and stop attacking us, on pension issues among others. An insufficient new offer, combined with one more in an endless series of media operations, will be felt as a slap in the face by the women and men who make public services work. The strength of the strike mandates our members have given us is a sign of the high expectations that exist in our institutions around the outcome of these contract talks.”

“We were clear about our intention of using the strike mandate and strategy voted by the workers we represent in order to reach a satisfactory agreement,” added the Front commun representatives. “At sectoral tables, there’s been some back-and-forth about cutting back on the number of demands. But at the central table, and on pay issues, there’s absolutely no movement. That’s the reality.”

The Front commun has been using every possible opportunity over the past months to remind the government that its offers aren’t acceptable – and that telling workers nothing will change is guaranteed to add fuel to the fire. Given the current state of our public systems, choosing to maintain an insulting pay offer and to keep on attacking the workers’ pension plan while constantly demanding more flexibility is nothing short of ludicrous. If the government wants to be an employer of choice, this has to take shape at the bargaining tables.

“We’ve had a year of contract talks, dozens of meetings at the tables, multiple exchanges through the media, mobilization and visibility actions throughout Québec, a huge demonstration in Montreal with 100,000 people in the streets, and now strike mandates where 95% are in favour of strike action up to and including an unlimited general strike,” said the Front commun representatives. “Sad to say, it looks like the government is actually waiting for a first day of strike action before it gets moving. So let’s be clear about one thing: the government is responsible for what we’re announcing today.”

“We’re aware that strike action has a big impact on Quebecers’ daily lives,” was the union leaders’ final comment. “But we also know that Quebecers don’t want to keep on living with deficient public services suffering from continuous labour shortages. We sincerely hope this strike day will be enough to get the government to make a serious move, which will minimize the inconvenience. But if our message isn’t heard, workers could go out on strike for a second time. If so, that will be the biggest strike movement in the public sector for the past 50 years.”

If strike action takes place on November 6, the Front commun says that essential services will be maintained.

For more information on public-sector contract talks: frontcommun.org.

Sources: APTS, CSN, CSQ, FTQ