The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) and the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) have announced the formation of a Common Front for negotiations on the renewal of collective agreements for public sector workers. The three organizations also note that this announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of the formation of the first Common Front in 1972.
“There is much to be proud of today! To unite our voices and join forces by forming a common front, a demand that comes from the members. This is what came out of the consultations: the members expressed their desire to work in alliance to send a clear message to the government in view of the magnitude of the task ahead,”
declared Éric Gingras, president of the CSQ, François Enault, first vice-president of the CSN and responsible for negotiations in the public and parapublic sector, and Daniel Boyer, president of the FTQ.
“We have barely finished one negotiation yesterday and tomorrow we will begin another, but the context is very different this time,” the union leaders said. For us, it is clear that the results of the last negotiation, conducted in an extraordinarily difficult context, are only a springboard for the one to come. This time, we must address the fundamental problems, and our members have been very clear about this. We have been talking about it for a long time; it is time for concrete action, and we have solutions. And in this regard, we remind the government that it must be done through negotiations!
Among the various challenges to be met, we note the improvement of working and practice conditions, the attraction and retention of personnel and the improvement of salary conditions – in particular to take into account inflation, which is hitting workers hard – which will obviously be among the elements raised by the Common Front. More specifically, the Common Front’s union demands will be based on consultations with members, a process that will begin in the coming months.
These problems, already present before the pandemic, have been exacerbated over the past two years, particularly in the context of the health crisis that has further shaken the education, health and social services, higher education and government agencies networks. Not to mention the issues related to the labour shortage that is hitting the public networks hard, particularly due to uncompetitive and difficult working conditions.
“It is a message of solidarity and unity that emanates from this common front. Over the past few months, our three organizations have spoken on several occasions about the importance of social dialogue in order to find, together, solutions that will improve the working and employment conditions of those who work on a daily basis in the education, health and social services and higher education networks. We are the spokespersons for those who provide services and care to the population and we will ensure that they are listened to and that their needs are taken into consideration. In short, these solutions are urgently needed to give our world some breathing space and to ensure the long-term sustainability of our networks. We are well past the stage of temporary measures,” the union leaders concluded.
After conducting consultations with members, the Common Front will submit its demands to the Conseil du trésor next fall. It should also be noted that the collective agreements will expire in one year, on March 31, 2023.