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Public sector negotiations: Common Front rejects Quebec's latest offer

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Quebec's Common Front of public sector unions rejected the government's latest offer just minutes after it was tabled.

The strike planned for Dec. 8 to 14 will therefore go on as scheduled.

On Wednesday, the provincial government said it would raise wage parameters for public sector workers by 12.7 per cent over five years, and the overall offer by 16.7 per cent.

"We are determined to settle quickly and invite the unions to move forward with us. Now the work must continue at the tables," LeBel said on social network X, where she made the announcement. 

The 420,000-member Common Front didn't hesitate to express its dissatisfaction with the new proposal.

"With current inflation forecasts of 18.1 per cent for this same period (2023-2028), this offer will still impoverish public sector workers," reads a statement shared on Facebook page of the FTQ union, which is part of the Common Front.

"Without a clause guaranteeing the protection of purchasing power and an enrichment enabling wage catch-up, it will not be possible to reach an agreement."

The alliance of unions will therefore proceed with holding seven more strike days, from Dec. 8 to 14. It has held four so far in November.

And health-care union the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ), which represents 80,000 nurses, nursing assistants and other care professionals, is scheduled to hold further strike days from Dec. 11 to 14.

In December 2022, Quebec tabled its initial wage offer of 9 per cent over five years. This was subsequently increased to 10.3 per cent over five years. To these increases, it added a one-off lump sum of $1,000 in the first year, followed by a sum equivalent to 3 per cent reserved for government priorities, which it said would allow for differentiated or better-targeted treatment.

The wage offer applies to all unionized government employees.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 6, 2023.

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