This text is part of the special Syndicalism booklet
The APTS asks that we recognize the true value of the contribution of its members in the health and social services network.
Members of the Alliance of Professional and Technical Personnel in Health and Social Services (APTS) practice a multitude of professions and trades — some 100 different types of employment — in the public health and social services network. From the laboratory technician to the medical archivist, including the medical imaging technologist and the social worker, they are for the most part shadow workers, but their contribution is no less important.
“As their contribution is often overlooked, we tend to forget that our members are an essential cog in the public network. Without them, the network simply cannot function, maintains Josée Fréchette, first vice-president of the APTS. For example, diagnoses made by doctors in hospitals require 85% of laboratory tests. Without a lab technician, there is no diagnosis. »
In addition, many of these professions and trades provide direct care to the population. “This is the case of the social worker in a youth center, underlines Mme Frechette. A simple gesture, such as a blood test, which is generally attributed to nurses and nursing assistants, is often performed by our medical technologists. Some services, such as medical imaging, rely almost entirely on technologists who greet users and administer tests, with the radiologist only intervening at the end of the process.
Sand in the gear
Unfortunately, everything is not smooth sailing for these health and social services workers, which today translates into the difficulty of attracting and retaining staff. “It is our current working conditions in the public network that are most detrimental to the attraction and retention of staff,” says Josée Fréchette. This is especially noticeable among CEGEP students when they choose their field of study. If they are attracted to certain professions, they are quickly disillusioned when they understand that they will have to work in the public network. This discourages many, and they then turn to other trades. »
There is of course the question of remuneration, which, according to the APTS, is not up to par, but there are also several irritants that harm working conditions. “Take the case of difficult shifts, evenings, nights and weekends,” explains Ms.me Frechette. The government does offer bonuses for these shifts, but these have not been revised upwards for years. A serious catch-up is necessary. »
Compulsory overtime (commonly referred to as “compulsory overtime”, or TSO) is also a major irritant. “We mistakenly believe that only nurses are subject to the TSO,” says Ms.me Fréchette, but some of our jobs are also there. This is the case of laboratory technicians, who must absolutely be present in the hospital. »
In addition, certain professions practiced by APTS members are particularly vulnerable to overuse of overtime. Take the case of a psychologist. Can he really leave a patient in psychological distress alone even if his shift is over? “It’s what I call the TSO in disguise,” explains Josée Fréchette. There may not be a regulatory obligation, but the pressure is so strong that the worker ends up giving in. »
The APTS, like most of the other unions that represent government employees, is currently in negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement. Among the union demands, there is that of raising the hourly rate of overtime from time and a half to double time. “It would be one more thing to think about for the manager before resorting to overtime,” she believes. And this could reduce the use of OST. »
But, beyond the specific demands, these negotiations are an opportunity to be seized, in the eyes of Josée Fréchette. “What I want are working conditions that are not only interesting, but that make people happy. I want our members who come home after work to be proud to work in the public network and to become its ambassadors. Only better working conditions can combat the labor shortage and thus improve services to the population. Ultimately, it is the users who will benefit. »
This content was produced by the Special Publications team of the Duty, relating to marketing. The drafting of Duty did not take part.