VOLUME 1 No. 6 | NOVEMBER 20, 2023

A historic strike

Difficult contract talks with a stubborn-minded government have been going on for almost a year, and we’ve now reached the point where we’re about to embark on a historic strike movement.

The pressure on François Legault and his government has increased since public-sector workers sent their first shot across the bows on November 6. Because there is still no progress at the bargaining tables, these workers will launch the most significant strike movement seen in Québec in close to 50 years on November 21, 22, and 23.

The solidarity between 420,000 public-sector workers will be heard loud and clear across Québec this week, and on November 23, over 600,000 people will be on strike. Will the government finally see reason?

The APTS and its Front commun partners are ready and available to negotiate over the coming weeks for as long as it takes to achieve a satisfactory agreement for you, our members – you who serve Quebecers day after day with your expert knowledge.

Organization of work: let's talk about it!

Treasury Board president Sonia LeBel hasn’t made any significant improvement to her salary offers, and she claims that unions are refusing to set priorities among their demands and discuss the organization of work. What is actually going on here?

Right from the start, the APTS presented demands that were prioritized, realistic, feasible, and cross-sectoral. These demands would improve specific working conditions for all Class 4 employees in all sectors, from the extended family of medical imaging job titles to psychosocial services, labs, rehabilitation, nutrition, and medical records, to name just a few of the crucial sectors in which you provide essential services.

In addition to fighting the labour shortage and work overload, we have a number of key demands designed to improve your working conditions, including:

  • overtime pay at twice the regular rate for everyone
  • enhanced premiums for evening, night and weekend shifts
  • reimbursement of fees for membership in a professional order
  • a shorter period before employees can obtain an extra week of vacation leave, and an additional 6th week of vacation leave
  • extending the critical care premium (12% or 14%) to all employees working with service users in emergency, intensive care, neonatal, or burn units, regardless of the location where the services are provided.

To relaunch negotiations, the APTS and its Front commun partners in health and social services have put forward many solutions in which organization of work plays a part, including proposals about a review of premiums, the use of independent labour, work-time arrangements, overtime pay, and vacation leave.

Meanwhile, although the government insists on the importance of the priorities it has established at the sectoral tables, one thing is clear: its proposals do not improve your working conditions. It says it wants to become an employer of choice, but it is still not responding to the demands you have asked us to put forward in current contract talks.

An update on offers in mental health...

There have been reports in the media and social media that the APTS has turned down the government’s offers outright regarding the working conditions of people working in mental health. That is not the case.

As mentioned in a previous newsletter, the government’s proposal has been neither accepted, nor rejected. Contract talks to achieve the best possible outcome are ongoing, and when these exchanges lead to an agreement in principle, all APTS members will be consulted on an overall proposal.

What the APTS has done, among other things, is to point out that there is a problem in making a longer work week (37.5 hours) obligatory, and that settling pay equity complaints for psychologists – a process that can immediately be accelerated by the employer – is a key factor in making it easier to attract and retain them in the public sector. We are waiting for a response from our employer counterparts on this last element.

Workers in mental health services would also benefit from the improvements to conditions of practice that the APTS is demanding for all of its members. These improvements include:

  • lighter administrative duties
  • greater professional autonomy
  • a new mechanism to fight work overload and provide an efficient way to resolve issues of ethical distress
  • better conditions for supervising trainees and providing clinical support
  • stronger prevention mechanisms for psychosocial risks, in particular for emotionally demanding work.

... and an update on work arising from Letter of Agreement No. 24 (youth centres)

Statements from Minister Lionel Carmant over the past weeks have also raised questions about what the APTS is doing to improve the working conditions of workers in youth centres.

After the last collective agreement was signed, a working committee consisting of APTS representatives and representatives of the CPNSSS (the management bargaining committee for the health and social services sector) was given a mandate under Letter of Agreement No. 24 to negotiate measures that would increase staffing, stabilize work teams, and provide support and recognition for employees working in youth protection.

The APTS has made a number of recommendations in this context, including:

  • setting up a mechanism to assess and set limits on workload
  • enhancing the 4% premium and allowing it to be converted into additional days off
  • granting a rising-scale expertise premium ranging from 5% to 10% depending on years of experience
  • enhancing a 3% premium for youth workers and extending it to all workers in youth centres (it is currently only given to 4 activity centres)
  • introducing a permanent mechanism to adjust remuneration that would enable lawyers employed by legal departments in health and social services to reach pay parity with colleagues employed by other ministries, legal aid, and the DCPP (Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions).

Minister Carmant recently implied that he wanted a significant pay raise for youth protection workers. However, he has had every opportunity to respond favourably to the proposals your union has been putting forward for over a year and a half, and has yet to do so.

If the government presents us with a response in line with APTS proposals, you can be sure that we will give it the serious attention it deserves in the context of the work being done as a consequence of the last collective agreement. We would also emphasize the fact that in order to reach a satisfactory agreement, the government will have to provide a favourable response to demands to improve working conditions for all APTS members.

Your bargaining team