Public sector strike coming

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Carl Hager

 QUEBEC – Public sector unions in Quebec that are part of the Common Front announced they will pursue their first day of strike action, November 6, in a quest to spur a negotiated contract settlement with the provincial government. Details of the strike will be released soon, but teachers, nurses and other public employees will be on the picket lines. All Pontiac schools will be affected.

Union negotiators are frustrated by the government’s intransigence and failure to make meaningful counter offers regarding the contract unions deposited a year ago. Among other things, unions are seeking improved wages that keep up with inflation, and better working conditions that attract and retain employees. The salary offer of 9.5% over five years is insufficient to cover the projected inflation rate, unions say.

Pension plans are also on the table, as the government is considering changes that would keep workers in the profession longer, even though they may have met retirement criteria, and reducing pension benefits.

Many public figures have commented that current offers are not the way to attract or retain public sector workers in Quebec, where a shortage of skilled labour is hurting the delivery of services.

“We want and are expecting concrete offers from government negotiators at the negotiating table. We don’t negotiate by public comment, as the Premier and his Ministers are doing,” said Steven Le Sueur, president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers.