The right to bargain is fundamental !
We have not forgotten the December 2005 decree imposed by the Charest Government. Three years after this wanton power grab, we are right in the midst of a provincial election campaign and the political parties all seem hesitant about approaching this matter. All the same, negotiations are the avenue along which genuine solutions can be identified to deal with the problems encountered by public sector workers. In order to unashamedly remind our bosses and the candidates seeking our votes of our determination to put an end to the decree system, we have included two items in this mailing. First of all, there’s a sticker that can be used in your institution to remind everyone that we plan to win back our right to bargain. We suggest that you distribute them right away, use them if candidates come to visit your institution or even organize a special activity in your Union. You will also find a small poster that calls attention to the importance of this matter within the context of the election campaign, as we are set to engage in a new round of public sector bargaining.
I’d also like to take advantage of this opportunity to report on the interunion work being done on the collective bargaining regime that covers us. Along with the FTQ and five other union organizations, we have been in discussions with the Treasury Board for the past two months to eventually make certain modifications to the Québec Labour Code. Our goal is to establish a genuine bargaining process in the public sector and thus reduce the temptation of any Government to impose its wishes by adopting special legislation.
Since these changes would require legislative amendments, we had set ourselves the goal of reaching an agreement before the adjournment of the National Assembly in December. Since a provincial election was called, these discussions have currently been suspended. If the next Government indicates a very clear intention to seriously continue these discussions, we will participate in them. However, we feel that any such legislative amendments would have to be done promptly during the winter 2009. After the period set out by law for changing one’s union allegiance, in July 2009, we plan to promptly begin consultations in our Unions regarding our bargaining proposals, so that we’ll be in a position to start negotiations with the Government prior to the expiry of the decree, scheduled to expire on March 31, 2010.
Bargaining is a right! Decrees, never again!
Toward a Common Front
Reinvesting in public services
The economic debacle is largely due to the failure of neoliberalsim: the crisis is a direct consequence of implementing principles of maximum government disengagement and deregulation of the markets. However, to kick-start their economies, even the most right-wing governments are no longer reluctant now to intervene by pumping taxpayers’ money into the market economy, but we believe that the key to a lasting solution lies in a better redistribution of the wealth. Along these lines, unions and civil society need to mobilize and make their voices heard to force governments into making budgetary and fiscal choices in keeping with the needs of the majority of the population. We are entitled to demand economic renewal measures that will better defend our rights and better protect our quality of life especially because it is we, the workers and taxpayers, who will pay the price if the elites become disconnected from reality.
Investing in infrastructure, in public services and anti-poverty (employment, housing, health) programs are some of the most efficient economic renewal measures when it comes to economic benefits. We know that these services are currently underfunded by the government and we need to see to it that sufficient resources are earmarked to make improvements where they are needed as well as get employees involved in the reorganization of work.
You will find, by clicking on the link, an analysis of the current situation and a summary document including a first Bargaining Framework, supporting the discussions actually going on in the cegep local union assemblies.
Analysis of the Current Situation, Document presented to decision-making bodies of the CSN’s public and parapublic sector federations, FSSS, FEESP, FNEEQ and FP, February 2009, 36 pages.
Summary Document: Analysis of the Current Situation and Bargaining Framework, Document presented to decision-making bodies of the CSN’s public and parapublic sector federations, FSSS, FEESP, FNEEQ and FP, February 2009, 10 pages.
2008-2010 public-sector negotiations – CSN looks ahead
September 2008 – Although this is not the time or place for agreeing on the strategic framework for the next round of collective bargaining, we do need to take a serious look at various aspects of the environment at the present time, a few months away from initiating the process for replacing the decree imposed in 2005. The first objective we have to attain is to win back the right to negotiate our working conditions and pay ! This is the underlying thrust of all that follows: finding the path that will lead us to this necessary victory. Of course the picture is not always rosy, but we have to take the steps to ensure that what we want is reflected in our actions and is echoed by our members. With this paper, we are laying the foundation stone of the structure we have to rebuild together !
As we saw in the evaluation of the last round of bargaining, we are faced with a government that will no doubt continue to develop the neo-liberal vision of the State and its relations with its employees that it has pushed ever since it took power in April 2003, and despite the fact that it only got a minority when it was re-elected in March 2007. It will continue to aim for less government and as little government intervention as possible, preferring to develop the private rather than the public sector. As well, the Conservatives in Ottawa are setting the example, depriving government of its ability to act by literally cutting off supplies. The result: a government that is shrinking away, at “best” limited to its
current role and at “worst” steadily downsized, without any ability to affect markets and at the mercy of the slightest changes in the economy.
One of the challenges facing us is to renew our collective agreements and replace the current decree in a context in which the government will try to further reduce its spending and privatize various chunks of services. There is also a “ favourable ” context of more staff shortages in some sectors at a time when many of our members will be just a few years away from retirement.
Furthermore, in addition to the need to increase the overall income of all our members, we will have to maintain pay equity and negotiate salary relativity. All this gives us good reason to want a rapid start to work on the next round of collective bargaining. The work of establishing a position of bargaining strength that will allow us to achieve our goals will be crucial and complex. Questions of alliances, information and mobilization of our members, as well as the place we can take in the media, will lie at the heart of the strategy to be developed.
To retrieve the document 2008-2010 public-sector negotiations – The CCSPP-CSN looks ahead.
To reach the web page of the Regroupement cégep for the next negotiations, click here.