Quebec extends premiums for 6 months, including for long-term care attendants
Published Monday, March 30, 2020 9:01PM EDT Last Updated Monday, March 30, 2020 11:40PM EDT
MONTREAL -- The Legault government announced a six-month extension to certain bonuses to at least one union, which were to expire on Mar. 30, specifically those granted to long-term care attendants.
“The government has contacted all the unions to tell them that we are ready to extend the premiums that were due to expire today for the next 6 months and that we wish to discuss them with them,” said Conseil du tresor press attaché Christian Dubé.
The length of the announced extension, however, varied depending on the union that confirmed the information on Monday evening.
Several bonuses paid to workers in the public and parapublic sectors are the subject of letters of agreement and were due to expire on March 30.
The 2015-2020 collective agreements for 550,000 government employees expire on March 31.
The Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique dans la santé et les services sociaux (APTS) confirmed the information Monday evening.
The six-month extension will affect three bonuses: for those who work in accommodation and long-term care, those working with clients with serious behavioural disorders and psychologists.
Reached the telephone shortly after, the CSN indicated that it had also obtained the maintenance of all of its premiums, but only “for the time of the accelerated negotiations.”
There was no mention of a six-month duration at the CSN, and this also affects other bonuses than those mentioned, including those for skilled workers.
Reached by phone and by email, the FTQ and the CSQ were still awaiting news from their respective bargaining team, late Monday evening. The two union centres have members who are also directly affected by these bonuses, which were to expire on March 30.
The Conseil du trésor confirmed it was holding intensive negotiations with the unions, adding that it would not negotiate in public.
The premium for accommodation and long-term care work is $180 per block of 750 hours of work.
The premium for psychologists ranges from 6.7 to 9.6 per cent.
The premium for those working with clients with serious behavioural disorders is $295 or $360 per block of 500 hours of work, said the APTS.
These bonuses were introduced in 2015 because of the scarcity of personnel in these trades and professions in the public sector.
It is important to emphasize that since there is no common inter-union front, the unions have separate negotiations with Quebec - which may explain the delay in the offers to each union.
“Accelerated negotiation” was proposed by Quebec in the context of the coronavirus crisis. There was first talk of stopping negotiations altogether because of the crisis - which the unions had agreed to.
Then it decided to accelerate it, but for a shorter term, in order to find ways to better protect the workers concerned during the crisis.
For example, unions are demanding a recognition bonus for the work they do during the crisis, a sort of “coronavirus bonus.”
To support their claim to this effect, they reminded the government that workers in grocery stores and other links in the food chain, for example, received a premium of $2 an hour from their private employer.
Among their other requests related to the coronavirus is that of removing pregnant or immunosuppressed workers from situations where they could be exposed to COVID-19.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 30, 2020.