Are we on track for real negotiation?
We haven’t had a Passerelle Nego since April 7! Why the delay? Unfortunately, there has been no progress in discussions over all this time at our sectoral table. The Legault government has been capitalizing on sympathy over the pandemic and using it as leverage to muzzle us and restrict our power to negotiate while promoting its political agenda.
Since December, the Treasury Board has presented the same employer offer three times while providing no response to union proposals. They have even banned representatives from negotiating at our sectoral table (FPPE) for several weeks. Clearly, this inflexibility on behalf of the employer has done nothing to help the bargaining process.
For us, however, there are many reasons to sit down and negotiate: attraction and retention issues, amount of funding available for professional development, payment of the professional order, salaries of ECs, bonuses for psychologists, the addition of new job classes to the classification plan, pay scale integration, guaranteed or improved access to different types of leave and paid days off.
All these topics are currently being ignored by the employer. They want us to withdraw almost all our demands. Which, of course, we refuse to do, especially without compensation.
As you know, we are in a truly exceptional situation at the moment. Given the current global context, we cannot exert our normal means of pressure through collective action. Unfortunately, we don’t have our usual balance of power at the moment and we are without a common front. This creates an environment that favours the government’s strategy, including its favourite tactic of “dividing and conquering”.
While the government is currently supported by a good segment of the population, everyone wants quality public services. Education, health, and early childhood development all suffered enormously during the period of austerity. In fact, we were getting close to the breaking point. A recent survey revealed that one in three professional staff members were thinking of leaving the education community at the onset of the pandemic.
Putting our heads in the sand or leaving these issues on hold any further will definitely not lead to the employer improving the situation. Normality will return sooner or later…
While the situation is very complex at the moment, rest assured that we will continue our reflections and strategies at the bargaining table based on the decisions made by your elected union representatives and by the federation.