Bombardier and refried beans
The Québec government managed to pull $1 billion U.S. out of the ethers to bail out Bombardier, but for the 400,000 workers who “woman” our public education system, health and social services and the public service, the only thing that’s on the table is refried beans.
Instead of a wage freeze for the first two years of their 5-year collective agreement, the government is generously offering to loosen up a bit and let workers have a wage freeze for the first year… and the third year. The government’s same lame offer of a 3% increase over five years remains unchanged. Not only that, it is proposing to even out some inconsistencies in the pay structures by reducing the salaries of close to 18,000 workers in positions that are preponderantly held by women. Young public-sector employees would also be hard hit. And let’s not forget the pension concessions that will hurt older workers.
The government turned a deaf ear to 150,000 people marching in Montréal in support of public-sector workers’ demands in October. This kind of contempt (if not loathing) has now triggered rotating strikes around the province, which will continue and escalate in the coming weeks. As the union song goes, “Which side are you on, boys, which side are you on?”