Public sector unions to get salary hikes, later retirement in new deal

A coalition of Quebec public sector unions revealed today the details of the agreement-in-principle it struck with the provincial government earlier this week.

Agreement-in-principle reached with government after months of rotating strikes

Public sector strikes could come to an end as Quebec continues talks with more unions. (Pascal Poinlane/Radio-Canada)

A coalition of Quebec public sector unions revealed today the details of the agreement-in-principle it struck with the provincial government earlier this week.

The agreement ensures salary increases of 9.1 to 10.3 per cent over five years, and retirement age has been raised to 61 from 60.

The common front of unions, which represents 400,000 public-sector employees, confirmed these numbers during a press conference on Sunday.

The tentative deal was struck last Thursday after a 13-hour negotiation blitz between Treasury Board President Martin Coiteux and unions leaders.

Teachers, healthcare professionals and civil servants held rotating walkouts for months to protest lagging contracts talks with Quebec.

Jean Lortie, Secretary General of the CSN, which represents more than 160,000 public sector employees, said the agreement is a "good deal" for public employees.

"For the first time in decades, the public sector unions reached a settlement with the government without a decree, without back to work legislation. It was a true process of negotiation," he said. 

Union leaders attributed the successful talks to the rotating strikes and what they said was strong public support for their demands.

Salary increases and a change to retirement age

The two sides started off "light years" apart, with unions demanding a 13.5 per cent pay increase over three years. The government proposed a three per cent increase over five years. 

Under the new deal, the salary increases could amount to as much as 10.25 per cent, with including premiums such as night shifts and high-risk work.

The base salary increase is 9.1 per cent across the board.

Details of the tentative deal include:

  • 2015: A lump-sum increase of 1 per cent
  • 2016: 1.5 per cent increase
  • 2017: 1.75 per cent increase
  • 2018: 2 per cent increase

In 2019, most public sector workers would see an additional increase as high as 2.4 per cent based on adjustments to salary-scale inequities.

The coalition said those adjustments will see more than 90 per cent of workers get an additional increase of at least 2 per cent under starting April 2, 2019.

This week's agreement would also raise retirement age from 60 to 61. Quebec initially proposed to push the retirement age to 62.

In a news release, the coalition said the agreement does not spell the end of the unions' fight against government austerity measures. 

"We will continue by all means to protect our public services from being dismantled," it said.

The terms of the agreement-in-principle will be presented to public-sector union members for adoption in the coming weeks. 

The result of those votes should be known in early January.

Thousands still without a deal

Other unions, meanwhile, are still in the midst of negotiations.

The Fédération autonome de l'enseignement (FAE), which represents 34,000 French-language teachers, is still without an agreement. Talks resumed between Quebec and the group earlier this week but there is no deal yet — which means that there could be strike days and cancelled school days in the future.

The Syndicat regroupant l'ensemble des professionnels du gouvernement du Québec (SPGQ), which represents white collar workers, has also not reached a deal with the government.

Earlier this month, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), which represents the majority of Quebec nurses, reached a deal concerning work conditions but not salary.


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