Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel has admitted that as the unions did not show up at the discussion forums, she had to email her “new offers” to the unions of nurses, teachers and psychologists.
The pressure exerted by the President of the Conseil du trésor du Québec, Sonia LeBel, to bypass the traditional bargaining tables is decried by the public service unions, who see it as a way of weakening their balance of power.
With its discussion forums, “the employer wants to bring us to a field where it controls the format, the topics and the participants,” laments Robert Comeau, president of the Alliance of Professional and Technical Health Personnel. and social services, which notably represents psychologists in the public sector.
Minister LeBel wishes to discuss with all the unions during forums on care teams, primary education and mental health, among others. This formula would avoid repeating the exercise at each bargaining table, argues Quebec.
Teachers are not all represented by the same central trade union, for example, it is noted: some unions are affiliated with the Central Trade Unions of Quebec, while others are affiliated with the Autonomous Federation of Education. /p>
A waste of time, say the unions
Faced with the refusal of the public service unions to participate in the exercise, Sonia LeBel revealed to the media Wednesday morning some of the offers it intended to present, further irritating the main interested parties.
“Embarking into a parallel discussion would only lengthen the delays,” denounced the Interprofessional Health Federation (FIQ) in a video communication addressed to its members at the end of the day. The discussions of a forum of this kind would inevitably focus “on subjects that affect the employer party […] and its demands” rather than “dealing one by one with the union's 60 demands at the official table”, has moreover argues Nathalie Perron, member of the FIQ negotiation committee.
“We take it like a ton of rocks,” Quebec Federation of Labor president Magali Picard said in an interview with La Presse canadienne. She said she was disappointed with the “amateurism” of Quebec, which did not table its offers before the negotiating teams proper, as it should.
In education, the new offers from the Treasury Board provide for daycare employees to assist teachers in 15,000 of the 25,000 classes in the network. This approach is currently being tested in around 100 classrooms as a pilot project. “According to the feedback we have, it's been very well received,” said Sonia LeBel.
In health, full-time nurses would have access to more leave, and Quebec would commit to better remunerate those who stay on the job on weekends. Proposals are also intended for psychologists in the public sector, but the Minister remained very vague as to their nature, referring only to an increase in their “overall remuneration”.
All in all, these new proposals would cost the Quebec state an additional $700 million, estimates the minister.
Quebec has so far offered public sector employees wage increases of 9% over five years, plus a lump sum of 1,000 $, plus an amount equivalent to 2.5% reserved for “government priorities”. Quebec therefore claims to present an offer of up to 13% over five years.
With The Canadian Press