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Quebec labour unions threaten unlimited strike in new year if no deal is reached

December 20, 2023
The Canadian Press

Photo: Adobe Stock
By Lia Levesque

Four Quebec public sector unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers are threatening to launch an unlimited general strike early in the new year if they can’t reach a deal with the provincial government.

Leaders of the four unions, which are negotiating together and calling themselves the “common front,” told reporters Wednesday in Quebec City that they think it’s possible to settle before the end of 2023 — but they warned that their threat isn’t a bluff.

“The situation is serious. What we are asking for is intensive negotiations,” said Magali Picard, president of common front member FTQ.

The unions, which represent 420,000 public sector workers, including teachers, education support staff and lab technicians, have held three strikes, each one longer than the one before. Most recently, they walked out from Dec. 8 through Dec. 14.


Union leaders said the government is attempting to lead a one-sided negotiation during which suggestions from workers are rejected out of hand.

“For me, (Premier) Francois Legault is driving a car through a tunnel in the wrong direction, all the other cars are facing him and he continues to be convinced he’s the only one who is heading in the right direction,” Picard said.

A teachers union that is part of the common front was scheduled to present a counter-offer to the government Wednesday morning after it rejected the most recent government proposal. Josee Scalabrini, president of Federation des syndicats de l’enseignement, described the latest offer as smoke and mirrors. The union’s proposal focuses on teachers’ workloads and on class sizes.

An unaffiliated teachers union that has been on unlimited general strike for four weeks said it was studying the government’s latest offer.

The provincial government has said it hopes to reach a deal with the unions before the end of the year.

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