The FIQ affiliated union delegates kicked off the fall season with a bang! In addition to the unveiling of the new uniform in the collective negotiation colours and the banners rolled out on bridges and from overpasses across Quebec, they met for two days in Laval for a special federal council devoted to negotiations.
Provincial negotiations progress report
The reactions to the Negotiating Committee’s progress report were unanimous: the government must offer more to Quebec healthcare professionals.
The Negotiating Committee presented the affiliated union representatives with an update on discussions at the bargaining table. There were bargaining sessions during the summer and the pace of meetings has sped up for September.
With the current discussions with the government, the FIQ’s Negotiating Committee is able to present its union demands and understand the employer’s position. This gives us a glimpse of possible avenues of resolution, and shows just how far we are from reaching an agreement on our working conditions.
Although there is much work to do and a lot of discussions to be had, your representatives were able to express their views on some of the nonsense heard at the bargaining table. The government is reluctant to improve the conditions surrounding on-call care, despite its growing presence in many care settings. It wants more flexibility in scheduling and moving healthcare professionals. Salary increases for other professions in Quebec, such as bus drivers, police, and especially MNAs, were also brought up.
Your representatives strongly criticized the employer offers and positions. They fuelled the Negotiating Committee by providing examples that will be brought to the bargaining table. They reiterated the need for real improvements in working conditions, recognition, and remuneration.
Over the next few weeks, the Negotiating Committee will be faced with the delicate task of making choices, in keeping with the normal process of provincial collective bargaining. The employer party will also have to make decisions and withdraw proposals.
Union teams are invited to set up information booths at their various facilities to keep you informed of ongoing discussions and answer your questions throughout September.
Mobilization update – preparing to strike
At present, the progress of negotiations does not meet the expectations of union reps, who want the government to be more receptive to the needs of members and to act accordingly, to improve the working conditions of healthcare professionals and recognize their contribution for its true value.
It’s therefore clear: mobilization must go on with the FIQ’s 80,000 strong, mobilized members. Members’ voices are key to resolving the impasse at the bargaining table and bringing the parties together to find solutions for healthcare professionals and their patients. It is essential to the success of these negotiations. Mobilization and visibility actions are planned throughout September. Stay informed with your union team.
Meanwhile, strike preparations are going well. It’s been 20 years since healthcare professionals last used this ultimate pressure tactic. Over the next few weeks, general assemblies will be held and you’ll be asked to vote on a strike mandate. It’s up to you to make the final decision to go on strike. Your participation in this democratic exercise will be crucial.
How will the strike vote work?
The Labour Code stipulates that the decision to grant a strike mandate must be made by secret ballot. The same applies to the vote on a possible tentative agreement. The last time healthcare professionals held a strike vote was 8 years ago, and the context has changed a lot since then. While that vote was held by paper ballot in each institution, it is now possible to hold the vote electronically. Our experience with holding two major consultations during the current negotiations has shown us that this method is highly effective for quickly reaching as many members as possible. It is therefore our affiliated unions’ preferred method, both for the strike votes and for the vote on the forthcoming tentative agreement.
When will the vote be held?
The referendum vote on the strike mandate will be held across Quebec on the same day. Other federal council meetings are planned in the coming weeks to stay up to date on the latest developments at the bargaining table and determine the best time to hold the vote.
A few days before the referendum vote, you will receive an email with a unique code for voting. The best way to stay informed about the voting procedures is to participate in your union assemblies where your union representatives will help you if you have any problems.
Stay tuned for instructions from your union team.