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Public sector negotiations | Unions say no to Sonia LeBel’s “glitch”



They will not participate in the health and education forums of the Legault government.

(Quebec) The big unions reject for good the “glitch” of the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel. They associate these discussion forums affecting the health and education sectors with a desire by the Legault government to take control of a “bulldozer” and impose its will.

“I have good news for LeBel. She doesn’t need a new seed. She doesn’t need a glitch at all. The hole has already been dug, all that remains is to put water in it,” says the president of the Quebec Federation of Labor (FTQ), Magali Picard, in an interview with The Press.

She was reacting to the release of Mme LeBel, who asserted that holding discussion forums in parallel with the negotiation tables would make it easier to settle the “heavy” process of renewing the collective agreements of government employees1.

According to the Minister, the mechanism codified by the law amounts to her “digging a lake with a spoon” and her discussion forums would allow her to buy “a seed to do the same thing”. She cited, for example, a solution proposed by the Legault government, namely the addition of 15,000 “classroom assistants” to lend a hand to teachers, who could be daycare educators whose schedules are broken. Rather than going back and forth between different negotiating tables, she would like to negotiate it in a forum.

The FTQ also has solutions

But the president of the FTQ reproaches Mme LeBel and the government to sink into “disinformation” by accusing the union leaders of “closing”. She mentions as an example two solutions presented by her union which do not require a forum, but simply the will to negotiate quickly.

Mme Picard is in favor of a salary increase for psychologists, which could be done outside of negotiations thanks to the Pay Equity Actand she proposes the creation of new “combined positions” which would allow special education technicians, who have “crappy” schedules, to have full times by becoming classroom assistants.

“We also have solutions,” she says. It also opens the door to differentiated salaries, bonuses for certain job classes or the modification of salary levels for certain job categories. This should be negotiated in sectoral tables, she underlines.

Hands on the backhoe controls

The President of the Alliance of Professional and Technical Personnel in Health and Social Services (APTS), Robert Comeau, member of the Common Front with the FTQ, the Centrale des unions du Québec (CSQ) and the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN ), also scratches Mme LeBel.

In the backlog, there is only one person driving and in control. [Sonia LeBel] want to talk about their priorities […] while ignoring the proposals of our members.

Robert Comeau, President of the APTS

His organization defends psychologists, a profession targeted by Quebec for a higher salary increase than for other public sector employees. Why don’t they flock to these forums to discuss this issue?

“Labour retention and shortage issues affect all of our members. But they just want to settle the psychologists. They don’t talk about youth centers [dont les employés sont représentés par l’APTS], where the problems are glaring. The money they propose to put into the forums, there won’t be any more for the others, it’s only for their priorities, we have nothing to gain in that,” he explains. he.

Not a “backhoe”, a bulldozer

Mme LeBel wants to discuss in these forums his proposals which would cost 700 million in five years, a sum provided for in the global offer presented to the unions last December.

The president of the Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE), Mélanie Hubert, also believes that “the allusion to the glitch” of Mme LeBel is a mistake. “It sounds like a bulldozer, big heavy machinery that it’s better to follow or get out of the way,” she laments.

And the president of the CSN, Caroline Senneville, even speaks of a potentially illegal “hijacking”. “I don’t think it respects the rules and the laws. She appeals to the good faith of the government, but does not rule out turning to her lawyers if the situation persists.

Not all unions are comfortable with negotiations with differentiated wages. Éric Gingras, president of the Centrale des unions du Québec, opposes it and argues that the salary increases for teachers and nurses have not solved the shortage problems. But “everything is negotiated”, argues Caroline Senneville, as long as it is done at the negotiating tables.

In a message posted on Facebook on Saturday, Prime Minister François Legault started the ball rolling by accusing the unions of showing “closure” by ignoring the three forums.2.

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  • March, 31st
    Date on which the collective agreements of the 600,000 state employees will expire.

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