Quebec health-care workers hold demo at rush hour in downtown Montreal
Nurses affiliated with the FIQ union set off from a Laval metro station for downtown Montrea Wednesday afternoon, promising to 'disrupt traffic' during rush hour.
Some 500 members of health-care union the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé are due to converge on downtown at around 4:30 p.m., at a destination that the union would not reveal ahead of time.
The demonstrators plan to distribute leaflets on their collective agreement negotiations, which have been going on for several months. The FIQ's demands were tabled last November. Quebec had tabled its offers to all government employees in December.
This marks the beginning of the FIQ's tougher pressure tactics.
Until now, the large union organization representing 80,000 nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists had limited itself to lighter pressure tactics, such as wearing T-shirts, unfurling banners and holding small-scale demonstrations.
In August, the mediator assigned to the FIQ file, who had been appointed on June 8, concluded that it would be impossible to make a recommendation given how far apart the parties' positions seemed to be.
However, at a meeting with Premier François Legault and Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel on Aug. 21, FIQ president Julie Bouchard and LeBel said they were prepared to accelerate the pace of negotiations.
The labour tribunal has already approved the lists of essential services that must be maintained in the event of a strike by FIQ members. This doesn't mean that FIQ members will necessarily walk out, but they are preparing just in case.
In addition to compensation, the FIQ has formulated a number of demands relating mainly to work-life balance and workload.
In particular, it demands that overtime work should only be voluntary, except in urgent or exceptional situations.
It also calls for legislation to establish safe nurse/patient ratios.
- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 6, 2023