Workers in the health and education sectors affiliated with the FTQ met on Saturday in front of the Montreal offices of Premier Legault, saying that negotiations for a new collective agreement are at an impasse.
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“At the start of the pandemic, the government asked the unions if we could negotiate quickly. We responded present, we put the pedal on the accelerator, but unfortunately, our counterparts did not do as much “, thundered the president of the FTQ, Daniel Boyer.
In an interview with the QMI Agency on Saturday morning, Mr. Boyer said that the appointment of Sonia Lebel as President of the Treasury Board had changed absolutely nothing at the negotiating table. The trade unionist deplores that the Legault government has had almost no water in its wine since the submission of its first offer last December, when the unions “took several steps”.
Over three years, Quebec is offering public service workers wage increases of 1.75% the first year, 1.75% also for the second, and finally 1.5% for the last.
The FTQ campaigns for indexations of around 2% each year, in addition to sectoral bonuses.
“We have to improve the retention rate and that means improving conditions. Today, the pension plan and the workers have the possibility of retiring early, which is quite normal, but they are not replaced, because our young people do not stay, ”insisted Daniel Boyer.
According to the FTQ, which mainly represents workers in the health network and support employees in the education sector, their members in the public sector earn an annual income that is 6.2% lower than in the private sector.
If the negotiations are stalling, the president of the central trade union recognizes however that the Legault government has put in place some measures in recent weeks to address the problem of attractiveness of certain trades.
Mr. Boyer cites, among other things, the extension of bonuses offered to beneficiary attendants, who will see their wages drop from $ 20 to $ 26 an hour.
“For the moment, however, these are just bonuses. At some point, we will get out of the pandemic and these bonuses will no longer have their raison d’être, ”worried Daniel Boyer, who pleads for these favorable conditions to be enshrined in collective agreements and for them to be extended to other parts of the public sector in need of manpower, such as maintenance services in schools and hospitals.
The union leader still hopes to reach a settlement as soon as possible, but he would not be surprised if an agreement is reached just Christmas. Moreover, this is what happened during the previous negotiations in 2015, under the Couillard government.
If the talks do not lead to an agreement by then, Mr. Boyer fears that the Legault government will pass a special law, like what Jean Charest’s liberals did in 2005, a decision that the unions always have through the throat.
“We are faced with much the same scenario as at the time, with negotiators who do not want to budge,” Daniel Boyer said.