After a series of general assemblies held over the past weeks, the Front commun (CSN, CSQ, FTQ and APTS) has confirmed today that it has officially been given a strike mandate up to and including an unlimited general strike. On average, the strike mandate gained 95% of the votes cast by Front commun members. The mandate specifies that an unlimited general strike will be preceded by a series of strike actions.
“This strike mandate is truly historic,” 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. “Tens of thousands of workers cast their votes to send the government a message that is crystal clear. We saw something extraordinary take place over the past few weeks. Our members’ mobilization is very real and very active, and the Front commun is rooted in our workplaces. Given the strength of our mandate, the government will have to take it seriously. If it still doesn’t know what’s going on, this is the ultimate signal.” The Front commun spokespersons nonetheless pointed out that there had been no lack of previous warning signs.
“We’ve been saying from the beginning that these contract talks are taking place on behalf of the 420,000 workers we represent, of whom 78% are women,” added the spokespersons. “The demands we’re making are theirs. The strength of the mandate they’ve given us shows that they massively support the Front commun and this extremely significant strike movement, which has no precedent in the past fifty years.”
Front commun representatives also noted that “the strength of our members’ response, and the level of support we’ve been given, create a great responsibility. People have high expectations regarding the outcome of these contract talks. And to put it clearly, the very conventional script that the government has been following shows how disconnected it is from what’s happening on the ground. Maintaining a ridiculous salary offer of 9% over 5 years is not exactly conducive to reducing our members’ anger. Ms. LeBel still has time to do the right thing – but she’ll need to come up with substantial offers.”
The Front commun today reasserted its willingness to negotiate, calling on the government to come to the bargaining table to reach a settlement that will allow people working in schools, health and social services and higher education to stop getting poorer, and that will provide better working conditions, in concrete terms, for all job classes. “At the end of this bargaining process, what we want is to be able to look ahead with determination to rebuild our public services on solid ground. That’s in the interest of all Quebecers – and Quebecers know it, which is why they’re supporting us in these contract talks. Can we go to the bargaining table now, and negotiate seriously so that we can move on to other things?”
The Front commun’s final comment was that obtaining a strike mandate does not necessarily mean the mandate will in fact be exercised. If there is going to be strike action, it will be publicly announced, officially and in advance, by the Front commun.