Without any news from the Conseil du trésor since obtaining their strike mandates, the legal aid lawyers’ unions affiliated to the CSN are holding their first half-day strike today.
After having explicitly mentioned it at the negotiating table, the representatives of the Conseil du trésor reaffirmed publicly, in a statement taken up by the media, that they had no directives to maintain any kind of salary parity with the Crown, since “the working conditions of the lawyers of the Commission des services juridiques are different from those of criminal and penal prosecutors.
These words have made the union representatives of legal aid very angry. “Our last agreement was concluded by recognizing the principle of parity in our working conditions: we plead the same cases, before the same courts and the same judges, as Crown prosecutors. Because of this parity of working conditions, the most basic equity is to grant us the same remuneration as that which was granted to the Crown prosecutors last December 16,” said Laurence Côté, legal aid lawyer.
The CSN legal aid unions have a three-day strike mandate in place, and more strike days could disrupt the courts in the coming weeks. It should be noted that legal aid lawyers are not subject to the legislation governing essential services
Despite a legal challenge to legal aid lawyers’ salaries, the government has provided a 10% salary increase over four years for Crown attorneys. However, the government is only offering 6% over three years to their legal aid counterparts.