By Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press on December 27, 2023.
MONTREAL – The Quebec government has reached tentative agreements on working conditions with all the unions that are part of a labour alliance representing about 420,000 public sector workers, but negotiations continue on salaries and benefits.
The province hammered out the latest deal between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning with Syndicat des professionnelles et professionnels de Laval-Rive-Nord, which represents about 1,000 professional workers at several school boards near Montreal.
Quebec now has tentative deals regarding working conditions with all four of the unions that compose the “common front,” an alliance of teachers, health-care workers and other public sector employees who launched a series of strikes starting in November that shut down schools and delayed surgeries. The four common front unions are the FTQ, CSN, APTS and CSQ.
However, the agreements don’t include salaries or benefits, which are being discussed separately, and common front leaders have threatened to launch an unlimited general strike early in the new year if no deal is reached.
Meanwhile, Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’éducation du Québec, a CSQ-affiliated union representing workers at 58 French-language school boards, said Wednesday its elected leadership unanimously approved a tentative agreement reached on Dec. 23.
“We think the agreement in principle reached today contains elements that will significantly improve the working conditions of professional staff for several years,” union president Jacques Landry said in a news release.
But he cautioned that the deal won’t be presented to members for final approval until salaries are settled, adding that without a complete agreement, the common front unions will walkout in early 2024.
The FTQ and the CSN declined to comment Wednesday on the state of salary negotiations or what led to the wave of tentative agreements on working conditions.
The province has still not reached any deals with two major unions outside the common front – one representing about 80,000 health-care workers, and another with 66,000 teachers whose unlimited strike has kept around 800 schools closed since Nov. 23.
The office of Treasury Board Chair Sonia LeBel declined to comment Wednesday on the state of negotiations.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2023.