Important National Day of Action in Quebec September 23
All Together with Public Sector Workers!
In Quebec, public sector collective agreements expired on March 31. This is a time public sector workers face the most brutal anti-social offensive and are fighting back. Their unions have once again formed a Common Front to raise awareness of their demands, their working conditions, and the urgent need for public funding of the public sector so that the needs of the society are met. Fifty years after the first Common Front was formed in 1972, the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), the Quebec Labour Congress (CSQ), the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) and the Alliance of Professional and Technical Health and Social Services Personnel (APTS) have joined forces to form an alliance and speak with one voice for this round of bargaining.
The Common Front is organizing a major national march on September 23, in Montreal, and invites everyone to participate. The call for the action says: "All persons who are closely or remotely affected, who know workers in our systems, who want to support our struggle and show the importance they attach to public services, now is the time to let your voice be heard loud and clear. We'll be needing all the voices we can get to join in with ours!"
The Common Front points to the fact that the state of Quebec's public services calls for ambitious solutions and openness to workers' proposals. To halt the exodus of employees from the public system, the Common Front is pointing to the need to improve working conditions to attract personnel and retain those already employed in the health care, social services and higher learning sectors. The government's approach is diametrically opposed to this vision. To serve narrow private interests which are competing for public funds, the government is waging frontal attacks against the Government and Public Employees Retirement Plan (RREGOP) to free up funds which they will abscond with. This is hastening the retirement of a significant number of employees approaching retirement age who need to do so to protect the pensions they have counted on their entire lives. Public sector workers know they will not be replaced because they know the government is set on destroying the public system and serving private providers who make a killing from guaranteed government contracts for their services.
It is already known that a public system is far less expensive than a private system whose aim is to guarantee profits of private providers. Everyone also knows that a public system can be administered efficiently and that in order for this to happen, it must be provided with the newest technological advances and the human factor/social consciousness must be permitted to flourish.
"For us who have borne the burden of keeping education, health care, social services, higher education and government agencies going throughout the crisis, the pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the problems inherited from decades of austerity: outdated facilities, disorganized networks, cumbersome administration, understaffing and overwork. Despite the uncertainties, the improvisations and the emergency decrees, we stood firm," the Common Front points out. Highlighting the unsustainability of the situation created by the government's lack of social responsibility, the statement of the Common Front points out that it is the remarkable adaptability and commitment of the workers that have kept the system afloat despite the lack of resources and the poor working conditions.
On the question of wages, the Common Front points out that after decades of austerity, cuts and wage freezes, the demands of public sector workers to bring their wages and working conditions in line with today's living conditions are justified and essential to ensure the sustainability of public services.
The statement points out that the organizations that make up the Common Front have a unanimous mandate to plan strategic strike action from the start of the new school year, which they have been working on for several weeks. The public sector unions say that the Common Front is a response to the government's attempts to divide, which do nothing but harm the public systems. "Beyond the dragged out negotiations, a long-term social vision is sorely lacking," the statement says.
All out to make the September 23 demonstration a resounding statement for the government to meet the public sector workers' demands!
All Out to Support Public Sector Workers!
This article was published in
Number 52 - September 22, 2023