(Quebec) Faced with the continuing impasse in negotiations to renew collective agreements in the public sector, Liberal MP Marwah Rizqy has had enough. She declares that the president of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, is no longer the woman for the job. According to her, Prime Minister François Legault must get involved in the negotiations to prevent strikes from multiplying.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, the Liberal MP did not mince her words in front of the government’s chief negotiator. “If she is not capable of negotiating, we will have to appoint someone else to negotiate in her place,” she said.
“At the moment, Quebecers want this to be resolved as quickly as possible. We want a negotiated, settled agreement, because at the moment, there are services that are not being provided. We are stretching the resources we call our guardian angels. […] If we drag on in the negotiations, there risks being a bitter taste for the workers we are trying to keep in the public network,” said Mr.me Rizqy.
The member for Saint-Laurent then listed the unions with which the President of the Treasury Board has not been able, to date, to reach an agreement in principle. “Zero in ten,” she insisted, affirming “that there is something that is not working” and that the impasse is found, according to her, at Sonia LeBel’s office.
“Out of ten groups, it’s zero in ten. She is not able to sign anyone. The only thing she was able to sign was the Los Angeles Kings,” she said.
Sonia LeBel responded by limiting herself to saying that she does not want to play the Liberal MP’s game. “I have great respect for all the deputies of the National Assembly. I have great respect for M.me Rizqy. I will not engage in those kinds of comments,” she said during a press scrum.
The president of the Treasury Board “keeps the objective of the end of the year” to conclude a negotiated agreement with the unions. “We will find a solution, we will find ways of passage, that’s the way I work,” she said.
Last week, at the request of the common front, the Legault government appointed Mathieu Lebrun, a conciliator, to the negotiating table. For the unions, this is an “exceptional measure”, in the context where “requesting the intervention of a conciliator at the central table has never been done”, they said.
The latest government offer is a 10.3% salary increase over five years, in addition to a lump sum of $1,000 in the first year. Added to this is a sum equivalent to 3% reserved for “government priorities”, which means that the government presents its offer as worth 14.8% over five years. The unions rejected this offer, calling it “derisory”. They did not make a counter-offer, which is also what Quebec is demanding.
On Tuesday, the common front also announced that its 420,000 members were adding seven new days of strike, from December 8 to 14. The next step would be an indefinite general strike.
With Tommy Chouinard, The Press and The Canadian Press
Christine Labrie accuses the CAQ of “exploiting” women
While the labor conflict between public sector employees and the government continues, solidarity MP Christine Labrie provoked strong reactions at the Salon bleu on Tuesday by asserting that “the State of Quebec participates in economic violence against women » and that the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) exploits those who work in the public sector.
“When the government refuses to increase public sector salaries above inflation, it is economic violence against women. […] Three quarters of the people who work in our public services are women. Why does the CAQ persist in exploiting them? “, she said during the question period.
An assertion which earned him a reprimand from the President of the Assembly, Nathalie Roy. “Mme MP, you are going too far. These are unworthy comments. I would invite you to retract the last word you said,” she asked him.
“I won’t take it away, Mr.me the president, because I think so,” replied the supportive MP, in a rebellious tone. Christine Labrie’s attitude aroused the ire of several deputies present at the Salon bleu.
The leader of Québec solidaire, Alexandre Leduc, came to his colleague’s defense twice. “With all respect, Mr.me President, I completely disagree with your interpretation,” he told Nathalie Roy.
The president called on the member for Sherbrooke a second time to withdraw her words. “I am being asked to lie, Mme the president, so I’m going to do it, I withdraw my comments,” Christine Labrie finally said.
Thomas Laberge, The Canadian Press