June 7, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

Complete Canadian News World

Public Sector | Unions shocked by elected officials’ pay hikes

(Sherbrooke) Dissatisfied with progress in negotiations, the General Front of Public Sector Unions is getting impatient and threatening to strike.

Union members are particularly outraged by a $30,000 increase in elected officials’ pay, which the Legault government wants to adopt through a bill introduced this week.

A thousand union members demonstrated Saturday in front of the Sherbrooke fairgrounds, where François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) will hold its conference this weekend.

“We’re asking for a $100 a week increase for all public sector workers, they’re going to give us a $582 a week increase, and they’re telling us that $100 is too much!” François Enault, first vice-president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), denounced in an interview with The Canadian Press along with other union leaders during the demonstration.

“Once upon a time, what’s good for Kitty is good for Kitty!” »

The congress took place under close surveillance and demonstrators were kept far apart, with a perimeter of barricades, a large concentration of police on foot and horse, and search procedures at the entrance to the building.

But union members had a message for CAQ activists who had gathered to support the government and vote of confidence in François Legault.

“When activists from the same party are together, everything is fine, we pat each other on the back, but it’s important to look outside, it’s real people, people working for the people of Quebec,” argued the leader of the coalition. Professional and Technical Health Workers (APTS), Robert Comeau.

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Union leaders complained that negotiations were progressing only on issues that the government wanted to resolve, but not on issues that workers wanted to resolve.

Eric Gingras, president of the Centrale des Unions du Québec (CSQ), commented that “when the government rotates with two or three priorities, even though we have many, we cannot make progress.”

Photo by Martin Chamberland, Archives Law Press

Eric Gingras, president of the Central Trade Unions of Quebec (CSQ).

Mr. Enault believes.

“There are no negotiations in the private sector where we are asking for withdrawals, the government is asking us for withdrawals in the pension scheme, this is unacceptable! »

Unions protested the delay in negotiations and mobilized troops.

“We are preparing the movement, and in the fall, if things don’t go well, we will go to see our members, ask them for advice, and if we have to go there, there will be a strike,” he promised. Kingrass.

“The aim is not to strike, we are preparing for it,” said Mr. Comeau said, recalling that a public sector strike requires at least six months of preparation.

“We don’t want to go there and think we can still get along at the table [de négociations], but we prepare everything the same way, we have no choice. »

The collective agreements of 600,000 civil servants expired on March 31.

Quebec has so far offered a 9% wage increase over five years, a total of $1,000 plus an amount equal to 2.5% earmarked for “government priorities.” So Quebec says it offers a concession of up to 13% over five years.

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The General Front, for its part, is demanding an increase of $100 a week or the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 2% for the first year of the employment contract, whichever formula is more favorable to the workers, then CPI plus 3% for the second year and CPI plus 4% for the third year.