One of the major public sector unions has just lodged a complaint of bad faith bargaining and obstruction of its union activities against the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

The APTS (Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux), which represents 65,000 members, has filed the complaint with the Administrative Labour Tribunal.

At the heart of the dispute is Quebec's desire to pay financial compensation for membership of a professional order, but only to certain employees who work in youth centres, and only in the assessment-orientation service. Workers in other youth centre services would not benefit from this temporary $900 payment.

In this way, Québec wanted to help reduce the waiting time for processing assessment-orientation files in youth protection services.

The APTS is criticizing Quebec for implementing this compensation unilaterally, even though it was a subject of negotiation for the renewal of the collective agreements.

The payment of an amount by Québec to compensate professional orders and associations for licence fees is part of the APTS's list of demands, tabled last October, but for all its members.

"Clearly, the defendants are imposing terms and conditions for the application of one of the working conditions currently under negotiation," the union alliance wrote in its motion.

"By refusing to negotiate and unilaterally imposing these working conditions, the defendants are putting the plaintiff in check and preventing it from bargaining collectively on behalf of the employees it represents," the APTS argued.

The union alliance also argues that, within the same youth centre, some union members will receive this amount while others will not, resulting in "discriminatory, unfair and unreasonable working conditions."

The APTS is therefore asking the tribunal to declare that Qudbec has breached its obligation to negotiate in good faith and has obstructed its union activities.

The alliance is also asking the tribunal to order Quebec to pay it $15,000 in punitive damages. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 1, 2023.