Discussion forums are “next-door” negotiation tables, says Sonia Lebel

Discussion forums are “next-door” negotiation tables, says Sonia Lebel

Discussion forums are negotiation tables “on the side”, says Sonia Lebel

Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press In an interview given to 98.5 FM host Paul Arcand on Monday, the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, defended herself from wanting to drown the public sector negotiations in a greater together with its three discussion forums, held in parallel with the actual negotiation.

The President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, now presents her “discussion forums” in the public sector as real “negotiating tables” with the unions, a “place next to” other tables.


In an interview with 98.5 FM host Paul Arcand on Monday, the Minister denied wanting to drown public sector negotiations in a larger whole with her three discussion forums, held in parallel with the real negotiation. The unions refuse to attend.

These three forums — “class team”, “mental health team” and “care team” — are veritable “negotiation tables”, just like the other negotiation tables in which the unions agree to participate, he said. she argued. She even presented these forums as “an added central table”.

Public sector unions had refused to participate in these discussion forums in 2020 and they refused again this time. In 2020, they had however succeeded in renewing the collective agreements for the period 2020-2023 without participating in these forums.

The unions see in these forums a way to drown the fish, to hold endless discussions, when the problems are already known. In their view, it is high time to negotiate clauses in collective agreements to resolve these problems.

But Minister LeBel insists: “It is a place of negotiation; we have to understand each other. We create a place next door. You could call it an added center table,” she claimed.

Around these vast forums, she would like to bring together all the unions concerned by a given subject, even if they have different demands in relation to their collective agreement and distinct solutions to the problems raised.

“J I won't have two ways of doing things, launched Minister LeBel. They will have to get along together. »

The nursing staff, for example, is represented mainly by the FIQ, but also by the CSQ, the CSN and the FTQ.


The centers of discarded school services

In the field of education, for example, the CSQ represents both elementary and secondary school teachers, support staff and professionals, while the FAE represents teachers only. The union vision and priorities are therefore not always the same.

And discussion forums do not only make unions cringe: French-language school service centers and English-language school boards claim to have them. dismissed by the Government of Quebec, even though they are the employers.

What is more, the president and director general of the Fédération des centers de services scolaire du Québec, Caroline Dupré, affirms that Quebec had even dismissed them by telling them that these discussion forums would not really be used to negotiate, but only to discuss.

Ms. Dupré does not understand that school service centers have been excluded from these discussion forums, one of which deals specifically with “the class team”. The school service centers are the employers, she argues. She explains that the law governing the bargaining system in the public sector specifies that the employer, i.e. the management bargaining committee, must participate in negotiations with its union counterparts.

Rest that these discussion forums constitute “an added central table”, “a place next to” the bargaining tables, while the minister herself deplores the fact that there are already 20 bargaining tables in the health sector alone .

The collective agreements covering approximately 600,000 state employees expire on March 31.

To date, the pace of negotiations has been rather slow, complains the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ) and the common front, which includes the CSQ, the FTQ, the CSN and the APTS.

Quebec blames the unions who refuse to change the way things are done by participating in its forums in parallel. And the unions blame it on the Quebec government, which is trying to save time and drown the fish with its forums.