Renaud Philippe The common front of union members of the public sector represents 420,000 workers in the health, social services and education, members of unions of the CSN, CSQ, APTS and FTQ.
95% of public sector common front union members voted in favor of a strike mandate to be exercised at the appropriate time.
The common front represents 420,000 workers in the health, social services and education, members of the CSN, CSQ, APTS and FTQ unions.
The mandate that was granted ultimately provides for an indefinite strike, but it would be preceded by strike “sequences”, probably isolated or grouped strike days.
“It’s historic. It was said from the start that the movement was historic — the largest common front, the most numerous, with a mandate that had not been requested for 40 years. I must tell you that we expected good support, but there, really there… What the members came to tell us is only two things: they are fed up, they are disgusted and they want to improve their conditions of work”, exclaimed in an interview Éric Gingras, president of the CSQ, the most representative center in the education sector.
“I think that if the Minister of the Treasury Board needed another signal from our side, from its workers, well they now have it there. At 95%, listen, this is crazy! This is unheard of,” exclaimed the president of the FTQ, Magali Picard.
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” Very happy ! We already felt that the members were behind us in this negotiation. They inquired about the negotiation; they were outraged. But to see it with such a high percentage, well that still gives us a solid boost in the support that our members give us, because we are carrying their voice in this negotiation. It gives us a good balance of power at the negotiating table,” commented Robert Comeau, president of the Alliance of Professional and Technical Personnel in Health and Social Services (APTS).
“A strike mandate, it is a means of pressure in itself and, 95%, I hope that the government will take into consideration the height” of the mandate obtained from the union members, underlined the vice-president of the CSN , François Énault.
He highlights significant participation rates at union assemblies. “For my organization, the CSN, it varies from one sector to another, but it is definitely the best participation rates since the last two rounds of negotiations.” Ms. Picard, of the FTQ, also mentions participation rates “much higher than in the past”.
When will there be a first day of strike, if the parties actually come to that? “With all the delays we have, I would say that it is clear that it should no longer be in November,” indicated Mr. Énault.
If there is indeed a strike, essential services are planned in the health and social services sector, but not in the education sector.
Despite this strike vote, negotiations are continuing with the Treasury Board and the ministries concerned. But Mr. Comeau reports that for months, “we have only been talking about government priorities” without addressing those of the unions.
Quebec is offering 9% increases over five years and a lump sum of $1,000 for the first year. To this, he adds a sum equivalent to 2.5% reserved for “government priorities”, which means that he presents his offer as worth 13% over five years.
The common front, as to him, demands a three-year contract, either $100 per week or the Consumer Price Index plus 2% for the first year — whichever is more beneficial to workers — then the CPI plus 3% for the second year and CPI plus 4% for the third year.