On this International Women’s Day, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) roundly denounced the attitude of the Quebec Treasury Board, which, since December 31, 2010, has dragged out the pay equity settlement for women working in the public sector.

CUPE finds it inconceivable that the Treasury Board would use the pretext of the union affiliation campaign in the health sector to  delay, once again, the 2010 regulation on pay equity maintenance, which would enable thousands of women to obtain wage adjustments reflecting the fair value of the position they occupy and to receive the retroactivity they deserve.

“This settlement would apply to all employees holding a job with a title affected by equity, regardless of their union affiliation.  So why make them wait?” asked Benoît Bouchard, General Secretary of CUPE-Quebec.

It should be noted that in December 2010, the Treasury Board enforced pay equity maintenance only for the parapublic sector. 

In 2009 and 2011, CUPE filed a series of specific complaints regarding several categories of jobs, including administrative officers, administration technicians, and support workers in health and social services. CUPE also filed general complaints encompassing all predominantly female job classes.

“In its maintenance exercise, the Treasury Board had not taken into consideration several evaluation points that can have an impact on salary assessment. We are currently in conciliation to resolve these complaints,” said Mélanie Gougeon, representative with the CUPE assessment service, responsible for the parapublic sector.

Since 2013, CUPE has been in the process of inter-union conciliation with the Treasury Board and the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail [Commission on Standards, Equity, and Workplace Health and Safety]. There have been several meetings with the Treasury Board where there has been an exchange of arguments between the parties.

“We consider that the Treasury Board has long had all the necessary elements for the analysis of our requests. It made a commitment to respond to us quickly at our last meeting, which took place on October 12, 2016. Five months later, it has not moved one iota,” complained Marc Ranger, Quebec Director of CUPE.

The Pay Equity Act, which is now more than twenty years old, was demanded loudly and clearly by women and trade union organizations and its object is to eliminate systemic gender-based discrimination against people who occupy positions in predominantly female job classes. This law obliges all employers with 10 or more employees to implement pay equity in their business.

Despite the many legal challenges on the part of the Government of Quebec, the courts have always, to this day, sided with the unions. CUPE won its case in the Court of Appeal in October 2016 involving pay equity payments to persons occupying predominantly female positions. The Couillard Government had previously chosen to go to the Supreme Court to challenge this pay equity judgment favourable to the women workers of Quebec.