Well being-care unions file swimsuit in opposition to Quebec over double additional time with out dialogue

History is repeating itself: the unions representing health-care workers have once again filed complaints in court against the Quebec government for interfering with their work by offering double time overtime in late July.

A few days ago, on Aug. 9, a judge of the Administrative Labor Tribunal ruled in favor of the health-care unions, who had filed other interference complaints against Quebec, this time over Ministerial Order 071.

This order was adopted to retain or attract personnel to the public health network by means of various premiums as part of the fight against COVID-19.

If administrative judge Myriam Bédard ruled in favor of the health-care unions, it was because the government announced the bonuses without negotiating the parameters with the unions — the agents who negotiate working conditions for their members.

The right to collective bargaining enshrined in the Labor Code is constitutionally protected as an essential part of the right of association.

“The government cannot set it aside without further analysis and disregard the provisions of the collective agreement that it has just negotiated,” the administrative judge concluded.

However, on July 20, fearing that it would once again be short-staffed because of the summer vacations and workers who had to be placed in isolation because of COVID-19, Quebec announced that those who agreed to work overtime this summer would be paid at double time rather than 150 per cent — under certain conditions.

And once again, the policy was not negotiated with the unions, but decided unilaterally.

The next day, the unions called the move “too little too late.”

They also criticized the fact that the government was once again going over their heads instead of negotiating incentives and conditions with them.

The government is now faced with further complaints from the unions about further impediments to their activities. They are calling it a “recidivist government.”

In her Aug. 9 decision, Bédard also criticized Health Minister Christian Dubé, by name, for his “disparaging remarks” against the health-care unions in the middle of a news conference.

The plaintiff unions are the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ) and the FIQP (private), the Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS), two CSN federations: That of Professionals (FP) and that of Health and Social Services (FSSS), two large unions affiliated with the FTQ; the Syndicat québécois des employés de service (SQEES) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), as well as the CSQ-affiliated Fédération de la santé and the Syndicat des professionnels du gouvernement du Québec.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Aug. 22, 2022.

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