Public sector | The common front calls for mediation

The public sector inter-union common front is asking for mediation in its negotiations with Quebec – a significant step towards intensifying the mobilization of its 420,000 members.

The Common Front’s request for mediation comes the day after a statement by the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, who wants to speed up the pace of these negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreements that concern more than 600,000 employees of the State, even this summer if necessary.

But the common front, which is made up of the CSN, the CSQ, the FTQ and the APTS, maintains that these declarations do not translate to the tables.

“Everyone is asking for mediation on all tables, because we are only talking about government priorities at the moment. We are not able to set our priorities, those of the 420,000 members we represent,” said Robert Comeau, president of the Alliance of Professional and Technical Personnel in Health and Social Services (APTS), in an interview.

These workers in health care, youth centers and schools, already irritated by the shortage of staff and the ensuing work overload, “really badly received” the Legault government’s announcement of a $ 30,000 increase for elected officials, emphasizes Mr. Comeau.

Quebec is offering all government employees a 9% increase over five years, plus a lump sum of $1,000 the first year, plus an amount equivalent to 2.5% reserved for “government priorities”. Quebec therefore evaluates its offer at 13% over five years and affirms that it takes inflation into account.

“There is a disgust”

The unions cannot help noticing the gap with the deputies.

“I cannot believe that we are capable, as a government, of lining our pockets, by letting the people for whom we are directly responsible, work and continue to exercise their functions in such miserable conditions. So really, there is disgust, there is major disappointment, ”reports Magali Picard, president of the FTQ.

“We are not at the stage of saying that the deputies do not deserve a raise. What they say is that what’s good for kitty is good for kitty. All of the arguments that are put to us for the deputies are the same arguments that are placed at the negotiating table for wage increases in the public sector”, indignant François Énault, vice-president of the CSN responsible for public sector bargaining.

The mediator will serve as an independent third party to try to bring the parties together. He will then report on the progress of his work.

Is recourse to mediation a sign that the negotiation is dragging on without much progress? “If the negotiation went well, we would focus on negotiating,” replies Éric Gingras, president of the CSQ.

“This is the famous obligatory passage. To give ourselves the tools, the members told us to come up with a strike strategy. That’s why you need a strategy. On the other hand, after that, to go on strike, we will go to general meetings and the members will decide, ”he concludes.

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