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When reading the key elements of this proposal, we may unfortunately feel as though we have lost a year trying to bargain with a government that obviously did not listen at all and has no consideration for the needs of employees in all public service sectors, which were presented in a clear, detailed manner at bargaining tables. Wage parameters were identical to those in the most recent offer, i.e. 1.75% in 2020, 1.75% in 2021, and 1.5% in 2022, and the employer side chose instead to make minor improvements to lump sums in the first and second years, when we had clearly stated that short-lived measures such as those would not allow for attraction or retention of workers in the networks. Lump sums are not recurring and are not included in pension calculations.
The other new aspect of this version in relation to wage parameters is the implementation, for the duration of the collective agreement, of a capped mechanism for protecting purchasing power, which allows for adding at most 1%, if inflation exceeds 5% over the three-year period. The Conseil du trésor is trying to sell this mechanism to us as a significant gain, yet if inflation were to exceed 6% over the three-year period, public service workers would once again be getting poorer. Moreover, the government is tying the mechanism to economic growth, which adds an additional constraint to its use.
Therefore, when it comes to wages, the reality is that the Conseil du trésor’s offer does not allow for any improvements—none at all. The needed change of course is still far off!
When it comes to working conditions, the government maintained the amounts allocated at the sectoral tables—amounts that are clearly insufficient. As was the case with wage parameters, the government ignored our demands, which proves to us once again that it only cares about its own priorities. By acting this way, the government is letting the vast majority of public service workers fall by the wayside, especially those in the school sector, CEGEPs, and government agencies.
By refusing to recognize that the crisis in our workplaces existed well before the start of the pandemic and by choosing to manage crises when they break in the media instead of working with us to resolve basic problems, Mr. Legault is forcing us to take major steps to get through to him. His new attempt in the past few days to settle public sector collective agreements at a discount has been an additional low blow, and we need to let him know that we will not let that happen.
Since March 15, we have had strong mandates to plan a strike, and the four CSN public sector federations are currently hard at work on this matter. Of course, above all, we want to come to an agreement that brings real solutions that will allow workers to provide quality services to the public. However, over the coming weeks, we will seek out strike mandates in order to have in hand all of the tools needed to be able to state loud and clear to this government that has shown us so much disregard—we are ready. If we need to, we will use the ultimate pressure tactic to improve our working conditions and thus defend the services to which Quebecers are entitled.