February 29th, 2024

Quebec public sector strikes could inspire others, as workers grow more combative

By Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press on December 29, 2023.

Striking teachers and their supporters hold a rally in front of Premier François Legault's office, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023 in Montreal. A labour policy expert says an eventual successful resolution of Quebec's massive public sector strikes could serve as an inspiration to other labour unions in the province and elsewhere. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL – A labour policy expert says an eventual successful resolution of Quebec’s massive public sector strikes could serve as an inspiration to other labour unions in the province and elsewhere.

McGill associate sociology professor Barry Eidlin says the Quebec strikes are part of a broader North American trend in which workers have become increasingly willing to fight to reverse decades of declining work standards.

Two separate union groups announced Thursday they had made major progress toward ending the labour conflict that has closed hundreds of schools, delayed surgeries and brought nearly half a million workers to the streets since November.

Teachers union FAE said it had reached a deal in principle with the government and would end its unlimited strike, while an alliance of four unions representing 420,000 education, health-care and social service workers said it had reached a tentative deal on salaries.

Eidlin says several steps remain before the labour conflict can be declared over, including the eventual ratification of the new deals by union membership.

However, he says the strikes and the strong public support for the workers sent a signal to the Quebec government that it needs to listen to the unions and take their proposals seriously.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2023.

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