The President of the Treasury Board, Martin Coiteux, and five leaders of inter-union common front, representing 430,000 state employees, continue their discussions Thursday on wages among others, to reach an agreement for the renewal of contracts work.
The parties discussed for seven hours Wednesday night and will meet again from 10:00 Thursday morning. After a long meeting, around midnight, each part was at least terse, saying only that audits are necessary before proceeding.
Mr. Coiteux, who had convened the union leaders as part of the inter-union common front for 17 hours Wednesday, said in a press scrum he needed “a few more hours.”
One of the union leaders who attended the meeting, President of the Fédération des travailleurs du Québec (FTQ), Daniel Boyer, did not hide that the meeting had been “positive”.
“On each side, we have to do checks on certain elements, we will take the night and morning to do, said Mr. Boyer. We reveal you the content when it’s over, but I can tell you that the work rolled … It has been, “he said shortly after the meeting.
Upon arrival in the late afternoon, the leaders of the central trade union said hoped that the government is prepared to have a sufficiently attractive proposition to set the table for a negotiated agreement with its employees.
After months of negotiations to renew collective agreements and numerous events, Daniel Boyer had expressed interest impending regulation.
“Mr. Coiteux proposals We will listen,” said the union leader on his arrival in Quebec, during a brief media before the game.
In briefing Wednesday morning on the sidelines of the weekly meeting of Cabinet, Mr. Coiteux had shown himself confident of reaching a negotiated agreement with all 550,000 state employees before Christmas, even if only a few days before the deadline.
Given the progress made in recent weeks to the sectoral tables, Mr. Coiteux said he felt it was time to speak directly to the leaders of the inter-union common front with them to find the “pathway” toward a settlement.
“We arrive at the stage where, indeed, it is conceivable to have more serious discussions about what will be the ultimate way of passing this negotiation,” said the Minister.
He argued that the government had put water in his wine in recent weeks, agreeing to revise upward its initial wage offer tabled a year ago (three percent increase in five years), the deals that were once flatly rejected by the unions, which called them “contemptuous.”
The unions then demanded 13.5% increase in three years.
For months, the gap seemed so deep between the two parties and their insurmountable differences. But in recent weeks, a thaw and a common desire to settle the matter was observed.
Including salary relativity and different bonuses, Mr. Coiteux now evaluates the government’s offer to 7.5% wage increase over five years, “a significant jump”, he said.
Does the common front agrees with the method of calculation of the government? “I think we can share it, actually,” said Boyer in the late afternoon. Earlier, the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN) had, however, expressed reservations rather enhanced ranging upwards to 6.4% in terms of pay, the remaining portion being applied to sectoral agreements.
Mr. Boyer said that for unionized public sector, it was essential that these negotiations do not lead to an impoverishment. “In addition to this, there is some catch-up” claimed, a bone of contention which is at the heart of negotiations.
Anyway, Mr. Coiteux recognized that unions had also made compromises in the last month.
Agreements have already been concluded at the sectoral tables with multiple bargaining units, the conditions of work.
At the center table, negotiations are ongoing around the thorny issues of remuneration and retirement age. Quebec wants to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62 years.
The Common Front brings together the Inter-Secretariat of Public Services (SISP formed CSQ SFPQ and APTS), CSN and FTQ.
The collective agreements in the public sector are past due for 31 March 2015.