Common front leaves meeting with Quebec without a deal, say they want to give negotiations a chance

By The Canadian Press

The leaders of the public sector common front were tight-lipped after a meeting with Quebec Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel late Wednesday afternoon in Quebec City.

The president of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), Éric Gingras, spoke on behalf of his colleagues to say that they wanted to give negotiations a chance.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve met the Treasury Board President, a good discussion, we took stock, we talked about all the subjects, and as we’ve said from the start, we want negotiations,” Gingras told reporters.

“Now we want to continue at the negotiating table. But really, fine-tuning, exchanges, a discussion, all the subjects, then, our teams are at work and that’s what’s important, so that’s the message we have tonight,” he limited himself to saying.

This meeting comes a day after the common front announced seven more strike days to come.

The common front, which represents 420,000 workers through its four member organizations, the CSN, APTS, FTQ and CSQ, announced that its members would be striking again, from December 8 to 14. It added that this would be its last strike sequence before an indefinite strike, if necessary.

Questioned a few hours before the meeting, Minister LeBel indicated that this meeting “will serve to take stock of the situation” with the common front.

From the outset, she lowered expectations: “You should read nothing into it, neither positive or negative”. She pointed out that she is meeting separately with the common front, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ) and the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE).

She drew a parallel with the famous discussion “forums” she had tried to set up over a year ago, to bring all the unions together at the same table to talk about different subjects. The unions had unanimously rejected this option, arguing that the Minister wanted to “drown the fish” rather than negotiate improved working conditions in the public services.

The common front, for its part, claims to have felt “a momentum” in the negotiations since the appointment of a conciliator, at its request, but not enough to ease the pressure on the government. This is why it has announced seven more strike days.


The FIQ, which represents 80,000 nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists, has also announced further strike days from December 11 to 14.

The FIQ reports a recent intensification of negotiations with the Quebec government.

“Over the past few days, the FIQ Negotiating Committee has noted an intensification of discussions with the aim of reaching a negotiated agreement in principle before the end of the year. However, although the tone has changed, no concrete gains have yet been made”, reported the union organization.

As for the FAE, Wednesday marked the fifth day of an unlimited general strike.

Its president, Mélanie Hubert, also reports that “for the past three days, negotiations have been a little more active; we’re going to count on that”.

Nonetheless, she criticizes the School Service Centers for “obstructing” discussions in order to impose constraints on teachers, by using their right of management, with the aim of resolving the shortage problem.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 29, 2023.

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