Montreal

Quebec accused of heavy-handed bargaining by striking lawyers

Striking government lawyers are urging Treasury Minister Pierre Moreau to consider their counter-proposal before resorting to back-to-work legislation.

Lawyers plead with Liberals to avoid passing back-to-work bill

Quebec government lawyers and notaries form a picket line at the Montreal courthouse in October, when they first went on strike. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Striking government lawyers and notaries are urging Treasury Minister Pierre Moreau to consider their counter-offer before resorting to back-to-work legislation. 

The lawyers and notaries, who represent and provide legal advice to the government, have been on strike for 18 weeks, causing severe delays to the legislative process.

Moreau threatened yesterday to pass a bill on Monday that would force them back to work.

Jean Denis, president of the union representing the lawyers and notaries, warned the government they would challenge any back-to-work legislation in court. 

The lawyers, who represent and provide legal advice to the government, have been on strike for 18 weeks, (Radio-Canada)
At a news conference Sunday in Quebec City, Denis publicly detailed the lawyers counter-offer. He said their main demands were not monetary, but about bargaining powers.

Denis also said that Moreau issued the threat of legislation even though the two sides had a bargaining session scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Montreal.

"Mr. Moreau's negotiation strategy is placing a gun to our head," Denis said. 

Quebec Treasury Board president Pierre Moreau said he felt the province had to table back-to-work legislation after making five offers to association representatives. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Still time to negotiate

Moreau said the counter-offer proposed by the union was rejected. However, he added that he saw a bit of hope in what was on the table, but believes there's "still moves to be made." 

According to Moreau, the government had to turn to back-to-work legislation because negotiations were not progressing fast enough. 

A last minute deal could be reached and the union has up until the legislation is tabled to come to an agreement, said Moreau. 

"We are open to negotiations. Today, tonight, tomorrow and the day after if necessary, but at one point the government has to be responsible."

Unionized lawyers and notaries for the government have been without a contract since March 2015.

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