The Common Front brandishes the ISQ report in support of its demands in Quebec

In the hour following the publication of the annual report of the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ) on compared remuneration in various sectors, on Wednesday, the leaders of the Common Front comprising the FTQ, the CSN, the CSQ and the APTS made a public outing aimed at justifying their demands, particularly on the salary side.

The report of theISQ demonstrates that the gap between Quebec government employees and other workers has narrowed over the past year, but it remains large enough to discourage workers from seeking employment with the provincial government, believes the president of the FTQ, Daniel Boyer.

In a context of labor shortages in almost all sectors of activity in Quebec, it is certain that if there are employment conditions that are more attractive elsewhere and that there are also salary conditions that are more attractive elsewhere, people risk going to be seen elsewhere too.

According to this report, employees of the Quebec administration earn nearly 12% less than other workers. This salary lag is a little less than 9% compared to employees in the private sector, but it reaches nearly 19% compared to their counterparts in the other public sectors, i.e. at the federal level, at the municipal level, in the universities or in government corporations like Hydro-Québec, for example.

However, when we compare total compensation, which includes pension plans, group insurance, holidays and hours worked, the gap drops to nearly 4%.

Furthermore, the discrepancies reported by theISQ are averages, but in certain trades – plumbers or carpenters, for example – whose services are needed in schools and hospitals among others, the difference exceeds 30% and even causes an exodus.

Young people first attracted by salary

CSN President Caroline Senneville reminds us that young people entering the job market have their own perspective: If you are a young person and you have not yet worked in what will be your main job, the first thing you will look at is the salary. Also the young people, when they come in and see the working conditions, when they see the workload, when they see the work climate, they say to themselves: I’m still young, I have less to lose or I have nothing to lose, ciao bye!

Young people, it is argued, are not yet attached to a pension plan, unlike older people who have been contributing for a long time and who have a much greater incentive to stay in their jobs. These questions become fundamental when the time comes to think about recruiting the next generation.

And the workload doesn’t just put off young people, underlines the president of the CSQ, Éric Gingras: Excessive workloads in our various networks should not be minimized. The members were very clear in the consultations that we conducted: yes, salary is an important element, but salary alone will not solve the problem of attraction and retention.

A salary does not increase the time you can spend with your children. A salary, a bonus, that doesn’t mean that, after the 15th hour of mandatory overtime, you’re less tired. »

A quote from Caroline Senneville, President of the CSN

The President of the Alliance of Professional and Technical Personnel in Health and Social Services (APTS), Robert Comeau, points out to this effect the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé: As Minister Dubé said: we have to become an employer of choice and for that, we are waiting for a clear signal at our bargaining tables so that our people keep hope, to stay in the networks and also to attract our young people.

Ability to pay and inflation

The Common Front is calling for increases linked to inflation plus 2% in 2023-24, inflation plus 3% the following year and inflation plus 4% in 2025- 26.

Union leaders are already ready to respond to the objections that the government will no doubt raise at the bargaining table: I can already see Treasury Board coming, the government, [invoquer] citizens’ ability to pay. It’s okay to wonder about that, but I can’t wait to reverse the formula and question the state’s ability to provide quality health and education services.notes Daniel Boyer.

As for the argument that significant wage increases add to inflationary pressures, Caroline Senneville is quick to respond.

The share of wages in Quebec’s GDP is only decreasing […]. The share of corporate profits in GDP is only increasing. So it’s not wages that create inflation, especially not in a post-pandemic context and in a context where supply chains are affected.she drops.

Protection of whistleblowers

The Common Front is also calling for protections enshrined in collective agreements for whistleblowers. The Facilitating the Disclosure of Wrongdoings Relating to Public Bodies Act, better known as the Whistleblower Protection Act, passed in December 2016, still falls short, say union leaders .

We think this is something that is eminently important for the members we represent. They must have their freedom of speechexplains Ms. Senneville.

Yes, there is loyalty to our employer, but there is freedom of speech which also exists and there is also the fact that the population has the right to have information on the public services they receive and we wants to end the omerta. »

A quote from Caroline Senneville, President of the CSN

Since its adoption, this law has been severely criticized by the Professional Federation of Journalists of Quebec (FPJQ) because it explicitly withdraws protection from whistleblowers if they speak to the media rather than to the internal bodies provided for in the law.

The president of the FPJQ At the time, Lise Millette, accompanied by investigative journalists Vincent Larouche of La Presse and Félix Séguin of TVA, denounced in a parliamentary committee the government’s approach which, according to her, was aimed at that the aberrations in the machinery of government remain well hidden within it.

Union leaders are convinced that protective clauses within collective agreements could succeed where the law has failed, that is to protect whistleblowers.

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The Common Front brandishes the ISQ report in support of its demands in Quebec

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