What we deserve… no more, no less
Although our demands haven’t even been filed, the premier is already asserting that unions want to monopolize the budget surpluses for their own interests, to the detriment of Quebecers – a surprising assertion when we know that he wants to use the surpluses to follow up on electoral promises made by his party, which was elected with 37% of the votes.
In an open letter that appeared in the newspapers on or around September 21, FIQ president Nancy Bédard and I pointed out that despite what Mr. Legault is insinuating, our unions don’t represent their own interests in these negotiations, they represent the 131,000 professionals and technicians who are valiantly keeping the health and social services system going to ensure decent care and services for their fellow citizens. Such care and services are appreciated by the population, which recognizes the value and merits of their work.
Moreover, the fact that the population still has confidence in our healthcare system is largely due to this skilled and dedicated personnel. Our members have borne the brunt of austerity measures that successive governments have shoved down their throats in the past number of years, and they’ve paid a heavy price. Austerity measures were imposed at their expense: budget cuts, work overload, compulsory overtime, staff shortages, etc. Doesn’t Mr. Legault know that that standard of living of personnel in health and social services has been stagnating, that their working conditions are declining and the number of absences for health reasons is rising?
It is in this challenging context that we chose the theme for these contract talks: “We’re done working ourselves sick.”
A message conveyed by 131,000 voices
We held an initial meeting on September 10 at the Palais de congrès de Montréal, with the APTS and FIQ delegations converging to officially launch the alliance forged by our two unions for the upcoming negotiations.
What we are demanding is due recognition of our members’ essential role in health care and social services. This battle to obtain better pay and working conditions is also aimed at giving our members the means to provide decent, secure and accessible care to the population.
This same premier who is so fiercely protecting his surpluses acknowledged in his throne speech a year ago that employees in health and social services had been particularly hard hit and that his government intended to “concretely improve the situation.” His recent declarations carry a very different message. They do not place the two sides in a constructive dynamic for collective bargaining. This is why it’s important for us to set the record straight. Our unions don’t intend to make off with the public coffers! They are, however, calling for negotiations to be conducted properly, according to the prescribed rules and standard practices. Above all, they are calling for the government to negotiate in good faith.
We invite the premier to show greater restraint in his public statements and not short-circuit negotiations… out of respect for Quebecers who work in health and social services and want to improve their lot, but also to help improve our system of health care and social services.
To follow developments in our contract talks, go to negoapts.com