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Several unions hold protest outside CAQ general convention

Several unions will demonstrate in front of the CAQ General Council. In the photo, a demonstration by the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), in Montreal, September 2023. LA PRESSE CANADIENNE/Christinne Muschi
Several unions will demonstrate in front of the CAQ General Council. In the photo, a demonstration by the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), in Montreal, September 2023. LA PRESSE CANADIENNE/Christinne Muschi
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Several unions demonstrated outside the Centre des congrès de Saint-Hyacinthe in Montérégie where the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) general convention was being held on Saturday.

One of the unions, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), called for better working conditions and wages for its workers.

"The care professionals who hold the health-care network at arm's length are exhausted, they're fed up," FIQ treasurer Roberto Bomba said in an interview.

"Legault, you have to recognize the expertise of people in care [who are] mostly women," said Bomba, who was at the demonstrations that began around 11:30 a.m. and ended shortly before 2 p.m.

In a press release, the FIQ indicated that its members wished to "remind CAQ MNAs that they still have no agreement in principle."

An agreement in principle was reached between the union and the government in April, but the members rejected it.

The union therefore wants the government to bring concrete solutions to the bargaining table.

"We can't be any clearer than that, things have to change," said Bomba, who pointed out in passing that pressure tactics would be stepped up in the coming weeks and that the FIQ would be demonstrating "all summer long."

Bomba also said that care workers don't feel listened to by the government.

Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel said in a written statement that "the government must respect Quebecers' ability to pay, be fair to other unionized workers, and have collective agreements that make it possible to offer quality care."

She pointed out that "balanced agreements were reached with the Common Front" thanks to "flexibility" on the union side.

"We had a similar agreement with the FIQ, but it was rejected. Now, the FIQ is coming back to the table with demands that challenge that flexibility, and on top of that, they're adding more wage demands," LeBel said.

The FIQ represents more than 80,000 nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists.

Other unions present

The Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ), the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) and the Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec (SPGQ) were also protesting at the Saint-Hyacinthe convention centre.

The SFPQ wanted to make its voice heard in the context of the renewal of the collective agreement for its 26,000 members, most of whom work in clerical and technical positions in Quebec ministries and agencies.

"For months now, the CAQ government has been holding up negotiations. Yet our demands are reasonable: fair wage conditions that take into account offers to public sector unionized groups, as well as the job market and inflation. By refusing again and again to recognize the need to value public service jobs, this government is demonstrating its lack of respect for our members and the work they do," said SFPQ General President Christian Daigle in a press release.

The SPGQ, which has been without a collective agreement for more than a year, agrees: "Our members have been patient, but patience has its limits. It's time to reach an agreement to renew their collective agreement," said Guillaume Bouvrette, president of the SPGQ, in a press release. He says the group has "proposed concrete solutions to resolve the impasse."

CSN members want to make clear their opposition to Health Minister Christian Dubé's reform and privatization of the health-care network.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 25, 2024.

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