Public sector negotiations: The missed opportunity of the Legault government

18 December 2019

The Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire reacts to the employers’ sectoral offers

The Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) is disappointed with the vague and incomplete employer proposals for sectoral negotiations presented to them yesterday and today.

“But above all, the government is missing out on a golden opportunity to become a competitive employer and to improve the attraction and retention of personnel, which would alleviate the labour shortage it is currently experiencing,” says FPSS President Éric Pronovost.

Demand more and offer nothing in return

Basing its own demands mainly on recognition of the exceptional work being done by support staff throughout the sector, the FPSS-CSQ regrets how little consideration the Caquist government is showing its members.

One of the major challenges for the employer party concerns the withdrawal of acquired rights clauses.  “What the government wants is to eliminate certain vested benefits and certain elements of local agreements that workers have had for more than 30 years,” says Pronovost.

“François Legault’s team is also proposing an unacceptable attack on employee rights, even those negotiated a long time ago,” says Pronovost.  “For example, anglophone school support staff are being asked to review certain measures dealing with staff movement.  The maximum relocation limit is currently 50 km., which is round trip, so we are talking about 100 km. a day.  Imagine if we were to increase this to 60 or 80 km.  What would this mean for the employee’s quality of life?”

For francophone school support staff, the definition of a position would be completely distorted.

Other employer demands aim to remove many measures, enabling them to impose assignments on personnel who would have not a word to say about it.

The government is also asking to increase the length of an employee’s probationary period, thereby extending the period of uncertainty for employees who often have to cope with precarious jobs and split shifts.

School support staff are already increasingly experiencing professional burnout.  And yet we are being asked to review the provisions of our disability and salary insurance plans, as well as health and safety, to the detriment of employees, which would only worsen the current situation.

These are just a few examples illustrating the nonsense of the government’s proposals.

Deliberate forgetfulness?

As part of its own sectoral demands, for the first time in Quebec union history, the FPSS-CSQ innovated by asking for a wage increase in dollars rather than a percentage.  We are demanding a $1 an hour increase for each of the next three years.  This form of dollar rather than percentage increase would make a bigger difference for workers with lower wages, narrowing the gap between them and the highest wage earners.

Nowhere in the governments offers is there any mention of any response to this demand.  “Our sectoral wage demands have been completely ignored.  You have to wonder if the government is not just turning a deaf ear, or it’s a case of deliberate forgetfulness,” says Éric Pronovost.

Dates to remember:

On December 16, school support staff and bus drivers in the anglophone sector received the employer’s sectoral proposals (S12-S13).

On December 17, francophone school support staff received their employer sectoral proposals (S3).

On December 19, the support staff of the Kativik School Board will also receive their employer sectoral proposals (S9).

Finally, no date has yet been set for the support staff of the Cree School Board, which the FPSS-CSQ deems completely unacceptable since it exceeds the legal limit for making this submission.