Negotiation and Pandemic
We are in a period that will mark the collective imagination for a long time. Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of the COVID crisis. There are several signs that the current situation could continue for several months, easily into the middle of the summer.
On March 31st, our collective agreements (French, English, Cree and Kativik) expired. At the beginning of the crisis, the President of the Treasury Board, Christian Dubé proposed a truce to the unions. We accepted that. Shortly thereafter, Première Legault, indicated that he wanted to reach an agreement with all public sector employees and to quickly come to the conclusion of collective agreements.
It is crucial to note that this negotiation is like nothing we have ever experienced. We have spoken to some union leaders who have a long history in union matters and they have never known anything that would be similar to the current situation.
The FPPE Executive, in the interest of representing members, agreed to partake in an accelerated negotiation process as recommended by the première. For us, one of the obvious advantages was to secure wage increases for the next few years.
We therefore convened our union executives to set priorities in the interest of a speedy resolution. Representatives from each of the unions participated in the Conseil féderal de négotiation, meeting via video conferencing. We did what was necessary; however there was no reciprocity of the part of the employer group.
The FPPE is always looking for a favourable collective agreement for its members, we will adopt our strategy accordingly. Of course, if the negotiation were to continue over a long period of time, we would come back with all of our demands, all of which are legitimate to us.
Today, that is the scenario that seems to be emerging. We have passed the governments’ deadline of March 31st. The various premiums (for example that of the psychologists ) were extended for 6 months.
The government no longer seems in a hurry to settle … even though they were the ones who created the urgency. The negotiation teams are currently in limbo.
Let’s hope that it is not a strategy that hides another.