Unions protest to save their pension plans
Thousands of blue collar workers rallied outside the National Assembly on Wednesday to demand the provincial government keep its hands off their pensions.
Municipal and provincial governments have been complaining for years of the costs associated with worker salaries and pensions.
With contract negotiations coming among many provincial workers next year, while the provincial government is determined to rein in its multi-billion structural deficit, workers are warning that their retirement packages are sacred.
"We're workers. We're blue-collar workers. We put into it and we want it," said Renato Carlone, a member of the STM bus and metro drivers' union who went to Quebec City for the day.
About two hours after the protest began provincial minister of Municipal Affairs Pierre Moreau addressed the crowd and said that civil servants will have to deal with changes, as much as they do not want them.
While being booed repeatedly, Moreau said municipal governments need a framework to deal with pension plans and that the Liberal government would pass a bill to put the tools in place.
The exact wording of any legislation has yet to be determined.
Montreal police brotherhood president Yves Francoeur was one of many union leaders who did not like that idea.
He said the provincial government should not feel it pass a "bulldozer law" to change public pensions across Quebec.
Other union leaders acknowledged that while governments are spending more than they can afford, it is their own fault for making contract agreements in the first place.
"What we're worried about is they want to take money from workers in Quebec to take care of their bills because they screwed up," said Carlone.
Moreau said when negotiations start, workers will have to remember that dialogue is necessary.