Quebec public health professionals are considering pressure tactics

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Quebec public health professionals are considering pressure tactics

Health professionals suspended their union negotiations during the first months of the pandemic.

We heard most about them during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic ; this time, public health professionals are considering using job action to try to speed up the renewal of their collective agreement.

They are 450 professionals, members of two unions affiliated with the Central Trade Unions of Quebec (CSQ), who work at the Public Health Laboratory and at the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec.

Professionals involved are scientific advisors, specialist analysts, statisticians, computer analysts, information officers, nurses, among others.

Their collective agreement expired on March 31, 2020, as did the other government employees – who have since renewed their collective agreements.

In an interview on Tuesday, Étienne Pigeon, president of the Union of Public Health Professionals of Quebec, explained that because of the pandemic, its members had agreed to postpone the negotiation of their collective agreement. But this resulted in their salary not being increased since.

The most important thing is that we took it upon ourselves and we agreed to delay the negotiations, saying to ourselves that with the services rendered by our members and the overtime that was worked during the pandemic, and all the sacrifices that have been made, there would be some recognition from management and the Treasury Board, said Mr. Pigeon.

But it seems that it is little recognized until now. We hope that, in the next few weeks, there will be a happy development, because here, for the moment, I would not say that we are at an impasse, but let's say that it takes more time than desired to conclude this negotiation.

The story is similar with Maud Vallée, president of the union of professionals of the Public Health Laboratory.

To meet the demand, to respond to the emergency, we have developed tests for COVID screening, for screening, to support all the laboratories in the network in the development of tests. We had put our negotiation on ice to respond to the emergency, she said.

For the moment, these public health professionals are resorting to light means of “visibility”, such as messages on their wallpaper during virtual meetings or by changing their signature of emails.

They say they are however ready to solicit a mandate of strike days with their members if the negotiation does not bear fruit in the coming weeks.

The negotiations are not broken off between the parties, however.

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