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Hundreds of thousands of Quebec union workers announce week-long strike

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The Common Front of unions announced strike days from Dec. 8 to 14, meaning  nearly half a million of Quebec's public workers will be off the job again if they don't reach a deal with the province. 

The Common Front is made up of the CSN, CSQ, FTQ, and APTS unions and represents around 420,000 workers in the health, social services, and education sectors.

"This is a final strike sequence before calling an unlimited general strike," said union presidents in a joint news release. "This announcement demonstrates our seriousness and our determination to reach an agreement before the holidays. Each time, we leave room for negotiation, but let's be clear: we will keep up the pressure and pursue our strategy of deploying our actions in crescendo."

The Common Front held a single strike day on Nov. 6 and followed by three strike days from Nov. 21 to 23.

Union representatives say that working conditions are unacceptable, the work union members do is undervalued and that wages remain low.

"Our members clearly felt it on the picket lines during last week's three-day strike. Something is happening in Quebec, and the momentum is there, for our networks, for workers, for services and for the public," the leaders said. "It's time to open up the engines, get the mandates down and reach a settlement at all the negotiating tables."

The unions will join the already striking federation of teachers' unions in the French-language system (FAE - Fédération autonome de l'enseignement) are on a general unlimited strike, which, they say, could last until Christmas. 

CALLS FOR TREASURY BOARD CHAIR TO RESIGN

Opposition parties responded to the ongoing strikes at the national assembly in Quebec City.

The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) called on Treasury Board Chair Sonia LeBel to resign, saying that she is incapable of getting along with unions.

Liberal education critic Marwah Rizqy said that LeBel has been relieved of other duties, such as intergovernmental affairs, to concentrate on negotiations.

"Sonia is zero for 10 in contract negotiations," said Rizqy. "Why is she still the head of the Treasury Board? Maybe it's time the premier found a better Treasury Board president."

Parti Quebecois (PQ) leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said the two sides need to stop negotiating in public and sit down to talk. 

When asked if the province is reaching a critical point for students who have lost school days. 

"It's already critical," he said. "We need a quick resolution."

Quebec Solidaire (QS) said the government needs to "table a real offer to the unions."

Are you a parent concerned about the strike's impact on your children's school year? We'd like to hear from you for a news story. E-mail us at MontrealDigitalNews@bellmedia.ca

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