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February 19 marked a big moment for CUPE Quebec members in the social affairs sector. Public and parapublic sector workers officially signed their first FTQ collective agreement following the latest round of negotiations with the government. The official signing took place at the Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux head office on Berri Street in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal.

At least 34,000 unionized workers—20,000 of which CUPE members—in the health care and social services sector will benefit from the new labour contract.

The five-year collective agreement expires on March 31, 2015. It contains, among other items, pay hikes ranging between 6 and 10.5 per cent, depending on GDP growth and inflation. The agreement also includes improvements to pensions and group insurance plans, as well as parental rights. It is also important to note that signing the new agreement on Friday means that many employees now have access to bonuses.

For the Conseil provincial des affaires sociales (CPAS - Provincial Council on Social Affairs)made up of CUPE members who work in the health and social services sector, this signature concludes the very first round of negotiations where all union organizations stood united.

CUPE Quebec expects to sign more  collective agreements in the public sector soon, namely in education, where CUPE represents close to 10,000 members in school boards and colleges.