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Union negotiations: Legault 'very open on monetary issues'

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While Premier François Legault says he's "very open on monetary issues" in exchange for more flexibility on the part of unions in managing public services, the Common Front counters that "their flexibility means ripping pages out of our collective agreements."

If public sector managers get more powers, as Quebec wants, "things will get even worse" in public services, argued CSN vice-president François Enault at a press conference on Thursday.

The Common Front, made up of the APTS, FTQ, CSQ and CSN, was reacting to the new wage offer tabled the previous day by Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel. She is now offering 12.7 per cent over five years to all government employees.

At a press briefing on Thursday morning, Legault said he was "very open about money" in exchange for more leeway in how public services are managed, and therefore in how collective agreements are applied.

He bluntly accused the unions of wanting to manage public services instead of managers: "It's not normal for our network to be managed by unions rather than by managers," he said.

He argued that often, workers agree with government proposals, but the unions oppose them.

CSQ president Éric Gingras refuted the claim that the unions were being inflexible: "What we're saying is that we're making moves at the tables."

He pointed to the fact that the Common Front, which has tabled its demands based on three-year contracts, would be "ready to work over more years." The government is basing its offer on a five-year contract.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 7, 2023.

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