As the summer begins, leaders of the Front commun, representing 420,000 workers in Quebec, met with the media on Tuesday morning to give their take on public sector negotiations.

“Contrary to what the president of the Conseil du trésor has implied, the union has put some solutions on the table. We are expecting them to be part of discussions as well and want the government not to limit itself to discussing its priorities only. Our objective is always to come up with a settlement quickly but not at any price. As such, we are hoping that the summer will breathe new life into discussions and set the stage for quicker exchanges at the bargaining tables,” said François Enault, First Vice-President of the CSN, Éric Gingras, President of the CSQ, Robert Comeau, President of the APTS and Magali Picard, President of the FTQ.

“There has been much discussion in recent weeks on intensification and mobilization. The colours of the Front commun have been very visible everywhere in Quebec, in our workplaces, at festive gatherings, during receptions of visiting ministers, in front of riding offices, and so on. One thing is certain, however. The mobilization dynamic will be quite different as far as we’re concerned when we do return. We wish to point out that the organizations making up the Front commun have received a unanimous mandate to plan strategic recourse to strike action, which we have been focusing our efforts on for several weeks,” added the union leaders.

As the Front commun sees it, the time has come for things to take a different turn at the bargaining table. As the situation currently stands, the wage offer from the Conseil du trésor is still 9.5% over 5 years, at a time when inflation came in at 6.7% for 2022 alone.

“There’s a lack of seriousness here. The government is attempting to cast us as antagonists, but the reality is that our public systems require ambitious solutions and is open to proposals from workers. This should be reflected in the discussions going on at the bargaining tables.”

To halt the exodus of employees from our public system, the Front commun is talking about improving our working conditions to attract personnel and retain those already employed in the health care, social services and higher learning sectors. The government’s approach is diametrically opposed to this vision, and instead, they are waging frontal attacks against the RREGOP, which would hasten the departure of a significant number of employees approaching retirement age.  Need it be said yet again that our pension plan is in good financial shape and that it is one of the rare advantages the public sector has going for it whenever it is compared with the private sector?

“If the Legault government was still looking for a way to anger our people, well, they’ve found it!”

The union leaders insist it would be foolhardy to underestimate the will of the membership and their ability to mobilize. “They’ve been around the block, so to speak. They’re all too familiar with the refrain they’re being served up. Frankly, at this time, the government is stirring up more anger than anything else. The Front commun is a response to the government’s divisive strategies, which are doing nothing but undermine public systems. Beyond the dragged out negotiations, a long-term social vision is sorely lacking. And that’s really sad. That’s the message we’re carrying to our public services.”

Major national demonstration on September 23

The Front commun is organizing a major national march next September 23 in Montreal and is inviting the public to take part. “All persons who are closely or remotely affected, who know workers in our systems, who want to support our struggle and show the importance they attach to public services, that’ll be the time to let your voice be heard loud and clear. We’ll be needing all the voices we can get to join in with ours!

A reminder of Front commun demands

On wages, the Front commun is demanding that a permanent annual indexation mechanism based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) be implemented along with wage catch-up enhancements.

  • For 2023: a hike of $100 per week for all workers or the CPI + 2%, whichever is most advantageous.
  • For 2024: CPI + 3%;
  • For 2025: CPI + 4%.

The Front commun has also brought other demands to the main table, particularly regarding:

  • Retirement
  • Parental rights
  • Regional disparities
  • Group insurance
  • Whistleblowers

For more information on the negotiations under way, go to:

About the Front commun

The CSN, CSQ, FTQ and the APTS combined represent more than 420,000 Quebec government workers in the public sector, education and health care sectors; and in social services and higher education. Their collective agreements expired on March 31, 2023.