A few days after the expiry of collective agreements for employees of public and parastatal sectors, thousands of people, members and friends of the Common Front SISP-CSN-FTQ from all regions of Quebec, marched in the streets of Montreal to remind the government that the solutions to improve public services go through the negotiation.
The President of the Treasury Board called yesterday for a blitz of negotiation as desired by the Common Front. He welcomes this announcement, but will judge the tree by its fruit. "On other occasions, including February 19 last, the President of the Treasury Board announced a period of intensive negotiations we have never seen color. We remain cautious and next week will see the level of government commitment. Trade unions members of the Common Front is available to negotiate aggressively, but remember that there will be no global agreement without being intervened agreements at sectoral level. This means that to achieve the goal of March 31, sector work should absolutely release and the government must show its good faith by withdrawing some of the major irritants that impede progress, "say the representatives of the Common Front.
Ensuring the sustainability of public services
"These negotiations are crucial for the future of public services in health, education for human security and environmental protection. The government must hear the message of the thousands of citizens gathered today to seek concrete solutions to problems encountered in workplaces that have a direct impact on services to the population, "said the president of the CSN Claudette Carbonneau.
Hundreds of people, unionized private sector and community groups joined the protest to support the claims of the Common Front. For these people, public concern us all because they come from the collective choices of Quebec society. They provide a social safety net is essential and the best tool for redistributing wealth.
"In the past, the public sector was the envy of many other sectors of society, but this is no longer the case today. Delays wage worsening year after year and working conditions have deteriorated shall ensure that the public has lost its former glory, "added the President of the Federation of Workers in Quebec (FTQ), Michel Arsenault.
For the Common Front, "it is urgent to make a turn to ensure the sustainability of public services to attract and to retain a skilled workforce. The staff shortage is already being felt in all categories of jobs for several years. In addition, it will worsen because of massive departures to retirement, poor working conditions and remuneration not competitive. The sectors of health, education and public service are less attractive and many are seduced by the private company that offers better working conditions and higher wages, "confirmed the spokesman Intersyndical Secretariat of Public Services (SSIS), Dominique Verreault.
The Common Front claims of wage increases of 2% per year to protect the purchasing power of wage earners and employees. In addition, he wants to undertake a remedial pay to make wages in the public sector more competitive. In this regard, he requested a remedial annual salary of 49 cents per hour on average, equivalent to 1.75% of average earnings.
About the Common Front
The Common Front comprises 475 000 persons employed in public services. These officials and professionals from government, workers and unionized workers of the health, education and certain government agencies. The Common Front is composed of SISP (CSQ, FIQ, SFPQ, APTS and SPCA), the CSN (FSSS, FEESP, FNEEQ, FP) and the FTQ (CUPE SQEES, COPE, SIU).
QUEBEC IN MOTION
CBC Montréal, edited by RY
Thousands of employees of the civil service and parastatal Quebec participated in a demonstration this afternoon in Montreal.
They responded well to the invitation of the Common Front the unions representing state employees in negotiations with the government.
According to Claudette Carbonneau, president of the CSN, what its members want is a collective agreement. "Our members are tired of living on love and water. [...] They are burnt out. [...] They want respect, "she said.
"In good years, salaries were frozen at 2% per year. The government can not afford to have employees paid less. The competition is going private to ensure that public services will decline as people responsible will go elsewhere. If you want to keep our services must pay wages that it requires" said Michel Arsenault, president of the QFL.
The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) said Friday it had "less and less hope" that the Charest government and 475 000 unionized Quebec public service workers will manage to conclude a new labor contract by March 31, the date that the collective agreement expires, imposed by the government in December 2005.
"We continue to make the necessary efforts at the negotiating table, but we can never reach an agreement as the employer insists on wanting to cut back on our working conditions so to bring us bellow the conditions under which we are currently covered by decree," the president of the CSQ, Réjean Parent, said Friday on the sidelines of a regional council of negotiations of the CSQ.
In a statement released Friday morning, Mrs. Gagnon-Tremblay said she still believes in a negotiated settlement by March 31. "In the hope of achieving this, I propose now a blitz of negotiations. It is necessary that the talks are progressing significantly in the coming days, both at the central table as sectoral tables, "she writes.
"Our negotiators have all the necessary mandates and government is willing to solve pressing problems, including those related to the work of nurses, strengthening the support for teachers, particularly those working with students with learning difficulties to improve academic achievement and the revision of the job structure to ensure greater flexibility in work organization in public service, "said Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay.
Quebec proposes an increase in overall compensation, which includes all benefits, 7% over five years. The salary increase would be limited to 5%. This offer may be enhanced by 0.75% for each of the last two years if economic growth is higher than expected.
The unions, meanwhile, demand a wage increase of 11.25% over three years (3.75% per year) so they say, protect the purchasing power of employees and reduce the wage gap compared to employees of the federal government, other provinces or the private sector in Quebec.
According to the CSQ, the wage offer of the Government of Quebec will result in a loss of 8% of state employees.
The government for its part maintains that all applications filed by the Common Front on October 30 will cost more than $ 8 billion over three years to taxpayers.
Given the large deficit of the Government of Quebec and "the challenges posed by a return to fiscal balance by 2013-2014," Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay calls the common front to discuss the bases "more realistic".
The front brings together all the major unions in the public and parastatal sectors or organizations grouped within the Secretariat Intersyndical utilities (CSQ, FIQ, SFPQ, SPCA and APTS), the CSN (FSSS, FEESP, and FNEEQ FP) and the FTQ (CUPE SQEES, COPE and SIU).
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