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Common Front leaves meeting with province without a deal, wants to give negotiation a chance


The leaders of the Common Front of public sector unions didnt' say much after a meeting with Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel late Wednesday afternoon in Quebec City.

The president of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), Éric Gingras, spoke on behalf of his colleagues to say that they wanted to give the negotiation a chance.

"This is not the first time that we have met the President of the Treasury Board, a good discussion, we took stock, we talked about all the subjects, and as we have said from the start, we want a negotiation," Gingras told reporters.

"Now, we want that to continue at the negotiating table. But really, clarification, exchanges, a discussion, all the subjects, then, our teams are at work and that's what's important, so that's the message we're carrying this evening."

This meeting comes the day after the announcement of a new, weeklong strike. The Common Front, which represents 420,000 workers through its four member organizations -- the CSN, the APTS, the FTQ and the CSQ -- announced that its members would walk out once again from Dec. 8 to 14.

He added that this will be his last strike sequence before the indefinite strike, if necessary. Questioned a few hours before the meeting, Minister LeBel indicated that this meeting "will serve to take stock of the situation" with the Common Front.

From the outset, she lowered expectations: "You should read nothing into it, neither positive nor negative," she said, recalling that she is meeting separately with the Common Front, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ) and the Fédération autonome de l'enseignement (FAE).

She herself drew a parallel with the famous discussion "forums" that she had tried to set up, more than a year ago, to seat all the unions at the same table and talk about different subjects. The unions unanimously rejected this option, maintaining that the minister wanted to "drown the fish" rather than negotiate the improvement of working conditions in public services.

The Common Front claims to have recently felt "momentum" in the negotiations, starting with appointing a conciliator at its request. Still, it was not enough to release the pressure on the government, which is why it announced seven more days of strike.


The FIQ, which represents 80,000 nurses, practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists, also announced other strike days from Dec. 11 to 14. The FIQ reports a recent intensification of negotiations with the Quebec government.

"Over the past few days, the FIQ negotiating committee has noted an intensification of discussions with the aim of reaching an agreement in principle negotiated before the end of the year. However, although the tone has changed, no concrete gains have yet been made," the union said.

As for the FAE, it was on its fifth day of walkout from an indefinite general strike on Wednesday. FAE President Mélanie Hubert also reported that, "for three days, things have been negotiating a little more actively; We're going to count on that."

Nevertheless, she criticized the school service centres for "obstructing" discussions to impose constraints on teachers by using their right of management to resolve the shortage problem.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 29, 2023. Top Stories

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