The 420,000 members of the Common Front in education, higher education, college, health and social services will be on strike again on November 21, 22 and 23, bringing them closer to the start of a strike general unlimited if an agreement is not reached by then.
“If these three days of strike are not enough, we are heading towards an indefinite general strike,” warns Magali Picard, president of the Quebec Federation of Workers (FTQ). So the employer has two additional weeks ahead of him to return to the negotiating tables, do [his] homework and present himself with serious offers. »
Spokespeople from the CSQ, the APTS, the CSN and the FTQ gathered in front of the Collège de Maisonneuve, Monday morning, to mark a first day of strike in the public sector.
CEGEPs reopened their doors at noon, while the strike lasted until 10:30 a.m. in primary and secondary schools. In the health and social services network, striking workers were subject to the law on essential services.
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In the next strike sequence in November , the 420,000 union members will be on strike without interruption for 72 hours, a sign that the artillery is “starting to be a little heavier”.
Quebec now offers a 10.3% increase over five years to all state employees, plus a one-time lump sum of $1,000 paid in the first year. It adds a sum equivalent to 3% reserved for government priorities such as differentiated offers. An offer considered largely insufficient by the unions, who ask Quebec to really take them seriously.
“It’s clear that we had to raise our voices,” says Éric Gingras, president of the CSQ. Counter-proposals were made at the various negotiating tables. “Let’s come to an agreement,” he insists.
On the social network “The pressure tactics used by the unions belong to them. But if they are dissatisfied with our fourth offer, they must submit a constructive, formal counter-offer,” she wrote. Quebec did not react following the announcement of three additional days of strike.
Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir Union leaders, including Magali Picard, president of the FTQ (center), Robert Comeau, president of the APTS (left) and François Enault, first vice-president of the CSN (right) were gathered in front of the Collège de Maisonneuve on Monday morning.
“The plate is full”
The possible prospect of a special law in the event of a protracted conflict does not arouse fear among union leaders. “Are we afraid of a special law? The answer is no, assures Robert Comeau, president of the APTS. We have determined people behind us.”
The teachers at Collège de Maisonneuve met by Le Devoir Monday morning were all very critical of Quebec's latest offer. Some are waiting for the unions to “put in place real pressure” and go as far as an indefinite general strike.
“Right now I’m working part-time. I am paid 15 hours per week, but I work 50 hours per week to set up classes, be there for students, participate in departmental activities,” says Sarah Thibault, professor of political science for two years.
“The workload is immense when you enter the profession,” adds his colleague Guillaume Murphy. “Insecurity can last a very long time. We have a colleague, we’re going to celebrate his tenure, but he’s been waiting for almost 20 years,” he adds, looking a little astonished.
On many street corners in Montreal and the South Shore, striking union members brandished signs and made themselves heard and seen, encouraging motorists to show their support by honking their horns.
In front of Jacques-Rousseau Secondary School, in Longueuil, dozens of teachers and support staff gathered Monday morning. “Saturday, I worked from 8:30 a.m. to noon, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to make final corrections, communicate with parents, order exam retakes for those who were absent during the stage », Lists Valérie Daigle, English teacher in 1st year of secondary school. The strike is necessary, she believes. “The plate is full,” she says.
For Diane, a student supervisor for over 25 years, salary and working conditions are an issue. “I went from $19 an hour to $24 in 20 years, that’s nothing,” she says. “We have two supervisors for 1,200 students,” she adds.
Met in front of Notre-Dame hospital, Pamela Gouin, who works in human resources at the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, had for her part voted in favor of the strike and sees a positive eye three additional days of strike, believing “that we must push hard” in this period of inflation. “I am working on a project that aims to improve the well-being of [CIUSSS] employees at work,” she explains. The positions of certain employees are not filled because of salaries and shortages. It creates an overload and it affects their well-being at work, so it makes it complicated for us to work on this project when the basic conditions, over which we have no control, are not there.”
Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir Le Front common inter-union represents 420,000 state employees.
For her part, the president of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, also argued that “state employees must benefit from good working conditions”, but that unions must also help the government improve organization of work “so that citizens also emerge winners from this negotiation and have access to the services they deserve.”
With The Canadian Press