An impressive gathering of 2,000 or so activists took place in Québec City on March 30 at an historic rally of the Front commun. Standing together as one, they talked about what’s happening with the contract talks and about stepping up the pace of mobilization.
The rally brought together workers from the health and social service system, the school sector and higher education, members of the CSN (Confédération des syndicats nationaux), the CSQ (Centrale des syndicats du Québec), the FTQ (Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec) and the APTS (Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux). They related their own individual experiences, while discussing their common ground and considering strategies and pressure tactics to be used in the months ahead. Throughout the day, speakers stressed the need for a strong and broad mobilization.
During lunch, the activists gathered outside the National Assembly to remind the CAQ government that its offers are nowhere near acceptable and that it should be offering its employees more than a plan to make them poorer. The coming weeks will see an upswing in mobilization.
An update on the march 27 “proposal” and the end of the forums
On March 27, Treasury Board representatives announced a proposed “third offer” at the central bargaining table. In the Front commun’s view, this isn’t
really a new proposal, but rather a document that clarifies certain aspects of the government’s offers in December 2022 – clarifications that were requested months ago! The wage offer remains the same and the plan to make workers poorer is unfortunately still on the table. This “proposal” still doesn’t allow for real gains that would deliver the overall catch-up pay increase we called for.
As for its attempt to transfer the discussions outside the bargaining tables, the government had no choice but to drop its efforts. Last week, Treasury Board president Sonia LeBel announced that the forums would not be held. The issues will be discussed at the bargaining tables, just as they should be.
Coordinated filing of essential service lists
This week, for the first time since the introduction of the essential service legislation, the unions in the health and social service sector, members of the CSN, the CSQ, the FTQ and the APTS, will file their lists of essential services simultaneously with their respective employers.
This coordinated filing of lists with all the health and social service employers is a symbolic gesture, a concrete affirmation of the unwavering solidarity of the members of the Front commun in the current round of contract talks.
This mandatory step is actually a first step toward obtaining the right to strike. The law requires these lists to be filed with the employer at least 90 days before a union can go on strike. Although the filing of these lists does not signal that a strike is imminent (several other legal deadlines must be met), it ensures that we will be ready in case strike action becomes necessary. In that event, you will have a chance to make your views known at a general assembly.