Public-sector contract talks | The Front commun is incensed and ratchets up the pressure

May 13, 2023

Image Public-sector contract talks | The Front commun is incensed and ratchets up the pressure

Sherbrooke – Over a thousand people demonstrated on Saturday at the convention of the CAQ (Coalition Avenir Québec) to demand better pay and working conditions for workers in schools, health and social services, and higher education. The government is about to provide MNAs with an immediate 30% pay raise, while offering those employed in public services with an increase that is ten times smaller for the same period: 3% as of April 1, 2023.

As a result of these contemptuous offers, the Front commun was given the mandate to ratchet up the pressure on the Québec government, and is now preparing to start the process that will eventually give it the right to strike. The labour coalition’s goal is to make sure key instruments are available in case the government forces it to use them.

“The CAQ government added insult to injury on Thursday morning when it introduced a bill to increase its own pay,” said Front commun spokespersons consisting of CSN first vice-president François Enault, CSQ president Éric Gingras, FTQ secretary general Denis Bolduc and APTS president Robert Comeau. “What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. The average salary of our 420,000 members is $43, 916 a year, and the rising cost of living is a big problem for them. Faced with the government’s insulting offers and its hardline approach at the bargaining tables, our members gave us a clear message: We’re not willing to get poorer! They can stop devaluing our public services. We’re through with that.”

According to the spokespersons, “Our collective agreements expired over a month ago, and the government needs to put real offers on the table.” With Premier Legault coming up for a vote of confidence on the part of CAQ members, they added: “François Legault is not showing any sign of leadership at this moment. The government has been stubbornly trying to impose priorities and solutions – what it needs to do now is listen.”

Towards a province-wide demonstration

With a mandate to intensify pressure tactics, the Front commun will be organizing actions in institutions and public spaces across Québec over the next weeks, and a large-scale demonstration involving people from all over Québec will be organized in September if discussions at the bargaining tables fail to produce an agreement before that time.

To address the current labour shortage in public services, the Front commun is calling for a mechanism that will permanently protect workers against inflation, as well as a general catch-up pay increase to provide real gains. For 2023, this means either an additional $100 per week or the Consumer Price Index (CPI) + 2%, whichever is most beneficial. The demand for 2024 is the CPI + 3%, and for 2025, the CPI + 4%.

For more information about the 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.

Sources : CSN, CSQ, FTQ and APTS