420,000 Front commun workers now have the floor

After weeks of intensive bargaining talks, and having consulted its intermediate decision-making bodies, the Front commun can now confirm that the tentative deal reached with Québec in late December will be submitted to union members represented by the Front commun.

“Our members now have the floor,” said CSN first vice-president François Enault, CSQ president Éric Gingras, FTQ president Magali Picard and APTS president Robert Comeau, speaking on behalf of the Front commun at a press conference today. “The details of the agreement will be presented to them in general assemblies, and it will be their move. And yes, of course, wages are a big issue – but the proposal they’ll be looking at has other valuable elements. It’s important to see the agreement as a whole. Gains achieved at the central bargaining table are added to those obtained at sectoral tables regarding conditions of work and practice. We’ll be seeing some very important debates within our unions over the next weeks.”

“It’s got to be said: this round of bargaining talks has not been easy,” added the union leaders. “It’s still too early to put the last year and a half in perspective. But one thing is clear – our members’ powerful mobilization, across Québec, is what made the government understand the needs of our public systems. A huge amount of work was carried out, on a daily basis, at many different levels. Away from the media spotlight, workers from the very beginning consolidated actions on the ground, made the Front commun visible, made our demands known and helped spread our message. Today, we want to applaud them and give them our heartfelt thanks.”

In terms of wages, the deal provides for an increase of 17.4% over 5 years for all workers in all sectors. Importantly, a 6% raise retroactive to April 1, 2023, will be given for the first year if the deal is accepted. This will be the largest annual pay increase achieved in decades.

The Front commun recalled that the government’s offer stood at 9% over 5 years in December 2022, 10.3% in October 2023, and 12.7% on December 6, 2023. At 17.4%, the current offer is the largest increase since 1979 over the period of a collective agreement. To this increase is added a clause to protect purchasing power that may provide up to 1% more for each of the last three years of the collective agreement.

In addition to wage increases, the tentative deal includes other improvements to the collective agreement in terms of vacation leave, retirement, group insurance, parental rights and other issues. Here are some of these gains.

  • The right to a 5th week of vacation leave will be achieved after 15 years’ seniority, and the full 5th week will be obtained at 19 years’ seniority rather than 25.
  • Improvements to the retirement system include the possibility of extending a phased retirement plan over 7 years.
  • Improvements to the parental rights plan include adding an extra day to the bank of special leave days for pregnancy.
  • The employer will make a bigger contribution to the health insurance plan.
  • The 10% premium designed to attract and retain skilled workers, in order to counteract the labour shortage, will go up to 15%.
  • Psychologists in all public systems will receive a 10% pay increase that will be taken into account by the pension plan.

General assemblies will be convened by over 300 Front commun unions between January 15 and February 19, 2024.

“We are tremendously proud of having contributed to this historic movement, speaking with one voice as the Front commun,” said the union leaders. “We made the right move when we chose to come together in solidarity. Right from the beginning, as we were establishing the Front commun, we said we were doing what our members wanted and that was the most important thing. To see how quickly they appropriated it was, and will remain, one of the most significant moments in the history of our organizations. And the support we received from Quebecers has also been crucial. They too, in a way, have been speaking with one voice with the massive support they’ve given to our workers’ demands. Our heartfelt thanks go to them, too.”

PROPOSED TENTATIVE DEAL AT THE CENTRAL BARGAINING TABLE FOR 420,000 FRONT COMMUN WORKERS

At the end of December, the Front commun was able to reach a proposed tentative deal at the central table for the renewal of public-sector collective agreements, after 11 days of strike action and weeks of intensive work at the bargaining tables.

The Front commun has always wanted its members to be the first to know the full details of the proposed tentative deal worked out at the central table. However, given that information is now beginning to circulate, we want to tell you about the basic elements of the hypothetical settlement. A more complete account will be provided in a longer newsletter to be sent around January 7.

The Front commun has obtained a pay increase of 17.4% over five years, along with a clause to protect purchasing power during the last three years of the collective agreement and numerous improvements in working conditions. Significant gains have also been achieved in terms of group insurance and vacation leave, along with gains related to parental rights and the attraction and retention of skilled workers and psychologists, among others. Some improvements have been obtained with regard to the pension plan, and major setbacks have been avoided in this area. In addition, a number of enhancements are set out in sectoral agreements.

Decision-making bodies at the CSN, CSQ, FTQ and APTS are currently reviewing the content of proposed agreements worked out at the central table and at each of the sectoral tables to determine if they actually constitute an overall tentative deal. If that is the case, it will be your turn to make your views known in general assemblies starting in January 2024.

The current round of bargaining talks will be officially completed when you, the 420,000 workers who came together to form our historic Front commun, are satisfied with what has been achieved in terms of conditions of work, practice, and pay. Stay tuned for more information about general assemblies in upcoming communications from your union.

FRONT COMMUN WILL LAUNCH AN UNLIMITED GENERAL STRIKE EARLY IN 2024 UNLESS A DEAL IS REACHED

Unions making up the Front commun – CSN, CSQ, FTQ and APTS – convened their respective delegates to meetings on December 19, 2023, in order to review what has been happening at the bargaining tables and to discuss what will happen next.

No hypothetical deal had yet materialized at the time the delegates met, and some 1,500 people attending the meetings therefore reasserted two crucial elements.

First of all, union bargaining teams will spare no effort over the next days to try and reach a satisfactory agreement. The Front commun still wants to achieve a tentative agreement before 2024, and that remains a possibility. Secondly, delegates were unanimous in saying once again that if no deal is reached before the end of the year, the Front commun will rapidly launch an unlimited general strike at the most appropriate moment in early
2024.

The strike will include every sector and will take place throughout Québec. The date will be chosen to ensure maximum impact.

News from the bargaining tables

While progress is being made at the central bargaining table, the issues of pay, insurance, regional disparities, and skilled workers are not yet resolved.
A number of contradictory messages have circulated in the media. We want to be clear about what we are saying to the employer party: we are willing to discuss a collective agreement covering a period of up to five years, as long as it meets our demands in terms of a catch-up increase. We have not put figures on these demands, but we have told the government that two conditions must be met:

  1. Protection of workers’ purchasing power must be guaranteed, and
  2. There must be a catch-up increase, for which no figure has been given in order to leave room for
    negotiating at the bargaining table.

Issues relating to insurance and skilled workers are still being discussed. The Front commun has been extremely clear with its counterparts that in order to
reach an agreement at the central table, there will have to be progress on these points, and on working conditions currently being discussed at sectoral tables.

For the past few days, the Front commun has been proposing solutions in response to the government’s issues. It will be important that the government also finds solutions in response to workers’ priorities. Given the current state of our public systems, the status quo is not an option, and attacks are even less appropriate.

In conclusion, the Front commun hopes its members will be able to restore their energy levels over the holiday season. If we are still at the bargaining tables in early 2024, we know that 420,000 Front commun members will be called on to play their part, and the involvement of each and every one will be crucially important.

No agreement is possible without a mechanism to protect purchasing power and a catch-up pay increase

“There will be no agreement unless our members’ purchasing power is protected and unless they are provided with a catch-up pay increase. We won’t let any of our members get poorer – and that’s something the CAQ government needs to understand.” Such was the Front commun spokespersons’ response to the offer that the government brought to the central bargaining table yesterday.

According to CSN first vice-president François Enault, CSQ president Éric Gingras, FTQ president Magali Picard and APTS president Robert Comeau, the government has finally tabled a pay offer that will provide a basis for more serious negotiations, a year after discussions began. However, the offer – 12.7% over five years – shows that the government is still totally disconnected from reality as experienced by workers in public services. “It’s not 16.7% as the government claims in public, but 12.7% as explicitly spelled out in the offer,” noted the Front commun spokespersons.

Making women poorer

Collective agreements signed in 2022 provide for an average increase of 9% for the first year, according to figures from the Ministry of Labour. Meanwhile, what is the government offering public-sector workers for the first year? A measly 4.3% – when inflation stood at 6.7% in 2022.

“Medical specialists, Sûreté du Québec police officers, judges – would they be willing to get poorer? The answer is a resounding No. How can the CAQ government seriously make this offer to women in public services?” said the union leaders.

No catch-up pay increase

The new offer ensures that workers will get poorer, and it still does not include a catch-up pay increase. “The gap between our members and other Québec workers will still be significant, both in terms of pay and overall remuneration, and even when the pension plan is taken into account,” said the Front commun spokespersons. “This is a key issue if the government wants to get public services back on track by attracting and retaining the employees we need. Instead, we have a situation where many of the people currently employed in public institutions will choose to leave.” The most recent report from the Institut de la statistique du Québec indicates that the disparity with other Québec employees is now 7.4%.

Retirement issues

One of the few positive aspects of the new offer is the fact that the government has now stopped attacking the pension plan. “The government has finally bowed to the evidence: there was no need to penalize workers for improvements to the Québec Pension Plan,” said the spokespersons. “That issue is now settled, which means that we’ll finally be able to discuss salary, insurance, highly skilled workers, and regional disparities – all major issues for which the status quo is unthinkable.”

Some facts and figures to clarify the issues at the bargaining table

  • Average salary of Front commun public-sector employees: $43,916
  • Wage lag: 16.6%
  • Overall compensation lag: 7.4%
  • Percentage of workers represented by the Front commun who are women: 78%

Urgent need for catch-up pay increases

“The data from Québec’s Institut de la statistique is crystal clear. We need to close the wage gap between workers in Québec’s public services and other Québec workers. The CAQ government needs to provide catch-up pay increases – if it doesn’t, the labour shortage will get even worse.” The Front commun’s position was stated by CSN first vice-president François Enault, CSQ president Éric Gingras, FTQ president Magali Picard and APTS president Robert Comeau.

The gap between public-sector workers and other Québec workers is 7.4% in terms of overall compensation, which includes employee benefits. When pay alone is considered, the gap is even more significant at 16.6%. Data from the ISQ report Rémunération des salariés – État et évolution comparés confirms the importance of the catch-up pay increases that the Front commun is demanding as part of current contract talks. “We have to maintain our purchasing power, but we’re also demanding real gains. The survival of our public services is at stake,” said the Front commun spokespersons, adding that the government lacks ambition as an employer.

“In today’s context, our public systems need to be able to attract people,” said the spokespersons. “Contract talks have to make it possible to attract and retain employees. Our people are leaving for better jobs provided by municipalities, the federal government, or big companies that are unionized. Knowing that, we expect the government to act like an employer of choice and follow the example of the best employers.”

The Front commun is calling for both a permanent indexation mechanism and a general catch-up pay increase to provide real gains. For 2023, this means either an additional $100 per week or the Consumer Price Index (CPI) + 2%, whichever is most beneficial. The demand for 2024 is the CPI + 3%, and for 2025, the CPI + 4%.

As usual, the data shows major disparities in relation to sectors with comparable conditions, such as the municipal sector (36%), public corporations (19.6%), universities (17.9%), and the federal public service (17.2%).

Workers in skilled trades, such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers, are lagging far behind with a 35% gap.

Some facts and figures to clarify the issues at the bargaining table

  • Average salary of Front commun public-sector employees: $43,916
  • Wage lag: 16.6%
  • Overall compensation lag: 7.4%
  • Percentage of workers represented by the Front commun who are women: 78%

PUBLIC SECTOR BARGAINING: FRONT COMMUN ANNOUNCES SEVEN UPCOMING STRIKE DAYS

The Front commun is announcing a new series of seven strike days from December 8 to 14 inclusively. By holding this final series of strike days before calling an unlimited general strike, the unions hope to achieve a settlement before the holidays.

With 420,000 members on strike for seven days in health care, social services, schools, and CEGEPs, this would officially be the longest public-sector strike in 50 years.

Mobilization Has brought results

Our historic mobilization on November 21, 22 and 23 has brought significant results. Not only have we seen a change of tone on the part of government in the public space, but the strike days have also destabilized the premier and his MNAs. The fact that we ratcheted up the pressure certainly had something to do with the emergency meeting held between François Legault and CAQ MNAs, without the presence of any political staff, on November 22

On the following day, Premier Legault told the media that he was willing to put more money on the table. Front commun spokespersons then rightly pointed out that serious offers are made at the bargaining table – that’s where they can be discussed. However, the premier’s statement does clearly illustrate something the Front commun has been saying for a long time: the money is there. And if the government has been forced to move back from a line it’s been holding for a year, that’s because of the pressure created by your mobilization. Now is not the time to let go – we need to keep going.

Conciliation

Our request for conciliation also changed the situation. One effect of the conciliator’s arrival was to add two new days of contract talks last week, on November 22 and 23, and several sessions this week including those on November 26, 27 and 29. Each of the parties undertook to explain their point of view and clarify their positions. Although no issue has officially been settled, these frank discussions have enabled us to stop going round in circles
and have forced the government to give clear answers to our demands. Our bargaining teams welcome this change at the table, but now they need your support so that we can move towards a concrete settlement. We need to maintain the pressure and keep on mobilizing.

CO28 à Dubaï: maintenir la pression pour lutter contre les changements climatiques

La Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), fidèle à son engagement envers les enjeux environnementaux, portera la voix des travailleuses et travailleurs dans le cadre de la COP 28 lors des négociations de la Convention-cadre des Nations unies sur les changements climatiques qui se déroulera du 30 novembre au 12 décembre à Dubaï. La délégation de la FTQ sera entre autres composée de la présidente, Magali Picard, et du secrétaire général, Denis Bolduc, ainsi que de déléguées et délégués œuvrant dans différents secteurs de l’économie (commerce, alimentation, transport collectif, énergie, foresterie, transformation industrielle) et provenant de différents affiliés (SEPB, TUAC, SCFP, Unifor). À noter que la FTQ participe à ces conférences depuis le tout début en 2015.

« Il faut maintenir la pression sur nos politiciens, même à l’étranger, pour s’assurer qu’ils assument leurs responsabilités et respectent leurs engagements. Par exemple, les énergies renouvelables doivent rester sous contrôle public alors que le gouvernement du Québec prône un déploiement de certaines énergies en laissant la voie libre au privé. Et souhaitons-nous vraiment permettre au Canada de poursuivre l’expansion de ses énergies fossiles en utilisant des technologies de captation de carbone qui sont inefficaces ? La réponse est non ! », soutient la présidente de la FTQ, Magali Picard.

« Si le choix du pays hôte peut sembler paradoxal par rapport aux objectifs de la conférence, la FTQ reconnaît le principe d’alternance des continents de l’ONU dans la sélection des pays organisateurs. Les défis actuels sont trop importants pour pratiquer la politique de la chaise vide. En tant que centrale syndicale, nous estimons avoir un rôle essentiel à jouer auprès de nos membres », explique le secrétaire général de la FTQ, Denis Bolduc.

Transition juste

Le concept de transition juste est utilisé à l’échelle internationale et vise à protéger la main-d’œuvre touchée par la transformation vers une économie verte. La FTQ s’assurera que le Programme de travail sur la transition juste, qui sera négocié, s’inscrira dans les principes de l’Organisation internationale du travail, c’est-à-dire par un dialogue social, la protection sociale, le droit du travail et le travail décent.

« La transition juste est un terme souvent galvaudé et noyé à travers différents concepts comme la transition verte, la transition énergétique, la transition socio-économique ou la transition environnementale. Même le gouvernement canadien a préféré utiliser le terme emplois durables pour favoriser la création d’emplois dans son dernier projet de loi », explique le directeur du service de l’environnement et de la transition juste de la FTQ, Patrick Rondeau.

Parmi les pistes de solutions explorées : organiser des comités paritaires axés sur l’environnement et le développement durable dans les milieux de travail, intégrer les enjeux de transition aux formations syndicales de base, négocier des articles de convention collective liés à ces enjeux (ex. : congé d’éducation payé).

La transition touche plusieurs emplois et régions et ne se déploie pas de la même façon ni à la même vitesse partout au Québec. La délégation de la FTQ surveillera et interviendra notamment sur ces enjeux : valorisation du transport collectif, carboneutralité des entreprises, décarbonation des procédés industriels, électrification des transports, protection des écosystèmes et de la biodiversité.

Projet de loi anti-briseurs de grève au fédéral: enfin!

La Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) applaudit le gouvernement Trudeau pour le dépôt du projet de loi anti-briseurs de grève (C-58) et demande aux autres formations politiques de faire preuve de solidarité envers les travailleuses et travailleurs du pays en faisant en sorte que ce projet de loi soit bonifié là où il doit l’être et qu’il soit adopté rapidement.

« Enfin ! C’est ce que nous avons envie de dire. Il faut saluer le courage du gouvernement Trudeau qui a résisté aux lobbys patronaux et reconnu tout le travail de longue haleine effectué par le NPD, sans oublier les organisations syndicales, dont les affiliés de la FTQ, qui ont sans cesse fait pression, au fil des ans, pour que soit déposé par les gouvernements en place un projet de loi protégeant les travailleuses et travailleurs. Trop souvent, des employeurs sans scrupules sous compétence fédérale ont profité de l’absence d’une loi anti-briseurs de grève pour poursuivre leurs opérations lors de conflits de travail en embauchant des  »scabs ». Ce projet de loi correspond à nos attentes », déclare la présidente de la FTQ, Magali Picard.

Ce projet de loi fait également en sorte d’interdire l’embauche de personnel de remplacement en télétravail, ce qui est une grande victoire. « Nous allons prendre le temps de bien étudier ce projet de loi, car le diable se cache dans les détails comme nous disons souvent, mais chose certaine, c’est que la lecture que le gouvernement fédéral fait du monde du travail correspond à la réalité d’aujourd’hui. Nous attendons maintenant que le gouvernement du Québec actualise la loi anti-briseurs de grève à cette nouvelle réalité, loi qui doit aussi s’adresser aux travailleuses et travailleurs de la construction qui se font voler leurs emplois lors de conflits, grèves ou lock-out », conclut le secrétaire général, Denis Bolduc.

Négociation dans le secteur public: le Front commun sera en grève les 21, 22 et 23 novembre prochains

Alors que 420 000 travailleuses et travailleurs sont en grève partout au Québec depuis minuit, le Front commun annonce ce matin que la prochaine séquence de grève se déroulera du 21 au 23 novembre prochains, à moins de parvenir à une entente d’ici là.

« Nous annonçons aujourd’hui le moment de la deuxième séquence de grève qui se tiendra sur trois journées complètes. Notre message ce matin est clair : nos équipes de négociation sont entièrement disponibles pour les deux prochaines semaines. L’objectif, c’est d’arriver à un règlement qui sera gagnant-gagnant, pour les travailleuses et les travailleurs, ainsi que pour les services à la population. Personne ne souhaite une autre séquence de grève, mais nous serons prêts s’il le faut », ont lancé les porte-paroles du Front commun, François Enault, premier vice-président de la CSN, Éric Gingras, président de la CSQ, Magali Picard, présidente de la FTQ et Robert Comeau, président de l’APTS.

« Cela dit, il faut bien comprendre que ce mouvement est une démonstration de la détermination de nos membres, qui ont voté à 95 % en faveur de la grève et qui sont prêts à aller jusqu’au bout, jusqu’à la grève générale illimitée, si le gouvernement ne comprend pas le message », ont tenu à préciser les porte-paroles.

Rappelons que le 29 octobre dernier, le Conseil du trésor a déposé une offre contenant une bonification dérisoire de seulement 1,3 %. L’offre salariale, qui est passée de 9 % sur cinq ans à 10,3 % pour la même période, ne réglerait en rien les problèmes causés par l’immense retard que subissent les 420 000 travailleuses et travailleurs regroupés en Front commun. Au contraire, elle les appauvrirait.

« Après que 100 000 personnes soient venues appuyer le Front commun dans les rues le 23 septembre, après un mandat de grève générale illimitée adopté à 95 % après un dépôt insultant dimanche dernier, le gouvernement nous pousse aujourd’hui à exercer la grève. Il récolte ce qu’il a semé, rien de moins. À l’heure actuelle, nous avons élagué nos demandes à l’ensemble des tables sectorielles. Mais une chose est certaine, les attentes des travailleuses et des travailleurs sont grandes. Laisser notre monde s’appauvrir, c’est non négociable ! », ont tonné les porte-paroles.

Rappelons aussi que le gouvernement a choisi de donner aux parlementaires 30 % d’enrichissement et de rattrapage, auxquels viendront s’additionner d’autres augmentations annuelles, et qu’il a offert 21 % sur cinq ans aux policiers de la Sûreté du Québec, offre qui a été refusée. L’entente salariale à convenir avec le Front commun devra obtenir le même niveau de considération.

 

Publicité choc pour contrer la violence dans les écoles

Le Syndicat des employées et employés professionnels-les et de bureau (SEPB-Québec-FTQ) qui représente près de 9500 employé.es de soutien dans les écoles de la grande région de Montréal a réalisé une publicité choc destinée aux réseaux sociaux afin de contrer la violence dans les écoles.

Certes, il existe un problème criant de violence dans les écoles régulières, mais il ne faut pas oublier les écoles spécialisées (ou classes spécialisées dans certains cas) où les agressions physiques et verbales sont monnaie courante. Dans ces établissements, le taux d’absentéisme et les réclamations à la CNESST sont très élevés. Il s’agit souvent de blessures sérieuses (fractures, commotions cérébrales, contusion, etc) et de détresse psychologique.

« La première chose que l’on doit préciser, c’est que cette sortie publique ne vise en aucun cas les enfants ayant des besoins particuliers. Ce que nous voulons en fait, c’est avoir les moyens de mieux les aider », explique Jean-François Labonté, président du Conseil national du soutien scolaire (CNSS), l’entité du SEPB qui coordonne les quatre sections locales (576, 577, 578 et 579) représentant le soutien scolaire.

Publicité vidéo francophone

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Une problématique qu’on doit régler

Les écoles spécialisées accueillent des enfants dont les besoins sont trop importants pour recevoir un enseignement en classe régulière.

« On ne parle pas uniquement d’enfants de 6 ou 7 ans. Il s’agit souvent d’adolescents. Il n’est pas rare que nos éducatrices spécialisées doivent faire face à des jeunes de 6 pieds et 220 livres qui se désorganisent et qui deviennent violents. Nous manquons cruellement de personnel et de moyens pour gérer ce genre de situation et nous semblons bien loin dans les priorités du gouvernement Legault », ajoute M. Labonté.

Nous ne trouvons rien de bien concret pour les écoles spécialisées dans la dernière annonce du ministre de l’Éducation, Bernard Drainville. L’enveloppe de 30 millions de dollars est destinée principalement à la prévention dans les écoles régulières. Pourtant, nous proposons des solutions aux tables de négociation, telles que d’allouer plus d’heures au personnel afin de mieux planifier les journées et de leur permettre de participer aux réunions « post-intervention ». Cela permet de mieux comprendre un événement et d’améliorer les prochaines interventions. Nous demandons également une prime pour le personnel qui travaille auprès des élèves ayant des troubles graves du comportement (prime TGC) afin de favoriser la rétention du personnel.