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Public service workers ask for a conciliator in its negotiations with Quebec

Union leaders stand in front of a banner as they demonstrate, Wednesday, November 25, 2020 in Quebec City. Eight major union leaders and workers gathered near the Quebec legislature asking the Quebec government to negotiate. From the left first row, Sonia Ethier of the CSQ,. Line Lamarre of the SPGQ, Andree Poirier of the APTS, Nancy Bedard of the FIQ, second row, Daniel Boyer of the FTQ, Sylvain Mallette of the FAE, Jacques Letourneau of the CSN and Christian Daigle of the SFPQ. (Jacques Boissinot, The Canadian Press) Union leaders stand in front of a banner as they demonstrate, Wednesday, November 25, 2020 in Quebec City. Eight major union leaders and workers gathered near the Quebec legislature asking the Quebec government to negotiate. From the left first row, Sonia Ethier of the CSQ,. Line Lamarre of the SPGQ, Andree Poirier of the APTS, Nancy Bedard of the FIQ, second row, Daniel Boyer of the FTQ, Sylvain Mallette of the FAE, Jacques Letourneau of the CSN and Christian Daigle of the SFPQ. (Jacques Boissinot, The Canadian Press)
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The Quebec public service workers union (Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec - SPGQ), which represents 24,000 employees, is asking for the intervention of a conciliator in the negotiations surrounding the renewal of its members' collective agreement.

The SPGQ is one of the three major public sector unions that have yet to reach a settlement with the Quebec government on the renewal of their collective agreements, along with the Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec and the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé.

In a news release issued on Saturday morning, SPGQ president Guillaume Bouvrette criticized the fact that "nothing is moving" after 51 negotiation meetings.

According to him, the union was assured that negotiations would be intensified but was only offered half a day of negotiations in the next two weeks.

"We were promised increases from the Common Front, but these were never tabled. The official pay offers are still at 12.7 per cent over five years. We've had more than enough of being taken for a ride by the employers' side," he argued.

On Friday, the Common Front, made up of the APTS, CSQ, FTQ and CSN, announced that 74.8 per cent of its members accepted the agreement in principle, which provided for wage increases of 17.4 per cent over five years, plus an inflation protection clause of up to one per cent for the last three years of the collective agreement if inflation exceeds a certain threshold.

The SPGQ still has a mandate for pressure tactics, up to and including an unlimited general strike.

Its negotiating committee will meet next week to review the situation and "agree on the strategy to be adopted."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 24, 2024.

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