This text is part of the special section Unionism
The president of the Interprofessional Federation of Quebec, Julie Bouchard, denounces in particular the fact that the government does not devote more than two half-days per week to negotiations, even though the positions are currently very far apart between the employer parties. and union.
“It is not lightly that we are resorting to a strike for the first time in 24 years. It’s been a year since we submitted our requests. We have no longer had a collective agreement since March 2023 and the employer side devotes two days per week to it. In fact, it’s only half days, because they don’t arrive until after lunch. »
The FIQ, which represents more than 80,000 nurses, practical nurses, respiratory therapists and perfusionists (and 90% of whose members are women), claims to have come a long way after submitting its adjusted demands last October, which reduced its requests from 60 to 30. “But it’s not moving forward. There is no constructive discussion. We are very, very far apart on the majority of points. »
Very diverse requests
The union demands are primarily salary-related, but they affect a whole series of demands, one of the main of which concerns the formulation of standards on the number of patients per professional, but also better tools for work-family balance. “We are asking for a better bonus for evenings and weekends, for example, but we would also like to see an end to the practice of refusing leave requests with only 24 hours’ notice. »
In terms of wages, the union is asking for a 6% upgrade from last January plus a 4% increase in all rates, and a permanent annual mechanism for adjusting wages to purchasing power. “The care professionals of the FIQ request that the salary provided for all of their job titles be higher than the salary of beneficiary attendants,” we read in the adjusted demands document of October 9.
“The Sûreté du Québec was offered 21% and refused. Our requests are of the order of 20 to 25%, but the government is offering us 10.3% over five years. But it is actually less since last November 5, they withdrew the 3.5% recognition bonus which was nevertheless included in the collective agreement. For us, it is an insult. »
The false problem of shortages
A big part of the problem lies in the creation of “safety ratios”. This is a standard that establishes the maximum threshold of patients for each professional on a team. Such standards exist for schools, but not in health.
California and two Australian states have successfully established such standards. “In California, they proceeded establishment by establishment over a period of five to ten years and the results are convincing. The effects have been beneficial on recruitment, the reduction of sick leave, and better control of mobility, in particular,” says the president. “British Columbia agreed with the union this year to start with a first project for $7.5 million. We’re bringing the Kings! »
In 2018-2019, the ministry launched 16 ratio pilot projects, all of which were successful. Except that, explains Julie Bouchard, the Quebec government never wanted to generalize the model under the pretext of a lack of labor.
“There is no shortage in Quebec. It’s wrong. The Order’s roll has never had so many registered nurses. Where are they ? Everywhere except in the public network, because of deplorable working conditions and salaries. They go to employment agencies, where they can decide their shifts and their vacations. »
Escalation of pressure tactics
The government requires the ability to move staff to place them, if necessary, in the establishment or service that is understaffed. “We cannot move a nurse 50 km and change departments without checking their qualifications or the impact on their work. This is dangerous for customers. For us, this is a complete rejection, but the government is focused on this. They absolutely don’t give up. »
“For us, the strike is the ultimate means of pressure, but it is something that we will do in compliance with the very strict rules for maintaining essential services. For example, emergency and intensive care are not on strike. »
“We don’t use the strike at all costs. But this mandate was voted for by 95% of our members. They are not just exhausted. Above all, they are very angry with the government. »
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