Negotiations in the public sector | Flexibility, bone of contention between Quebec and the FIQ

Negotiations between the Interprofessional Health Federation of Quebec (FIQ) and Quebec hit an impasse: flexibility. The union is opposed to the idea of ​​forcing nurses to change establishments or care units to compensate for staff shortages.

According to our information, the presence of the conciliator facilitates the talks, but the main challenge to reaching an agreement lies in the question of flexibility.

The FIQ has already expressed in the past its disagreement with Quebec’s demands to include greater “flexibility” in the collective agreements of health workers. According to the union, this is a disguised way of moving nurses between care units and health establishments, according to the needs of employers.

The union, which represents some 85,000 nurses, practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists, called on a conciliator on December 19 in the hope of resolving the impasse in negotiations.

The conciliator recommended that the parties limit public comments as much as possible until January 15. The union does not intend to hold additional strike days between now and this date.

Flexibility, a “counterproductive” measure

“I have the impression that many nurses would perceive the fact of having to move to another hospital as being a deal breaker, something that would be likely to push them to change jobs,” said Damien Contandriopoulos, professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Victoria.

He takes a dim view of this “flexibility” requested by the government.

This seems profoundly counterproductive to me and it worries me about the government’s current vision regarding the functioning of the network. I can’t understand why (the government) is persisting on this.

Damien Contandriopoulos, professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Victoria

He emphasizes that the territories of the CISSS and CIUSSS are sometimes very large. “We cannot tell a nurse from Rivière-du-Loup that her next shifts are in Rimouski. But that’s what the government wants to be able to do,” he summarizes.

200 resignations in nine months

Such a “flexibility” measure was introduced in March in Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec (MCQ). CIUSSS MCQ nurses are called upon to lend a hand in areas where the needs are most pressing at least one weekend in three.

In the space of nine months, no fewer than 200 nurses working in the region would have retired early or resigned due to the new measure.

Members of the Union of Healthcare Professionals of Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec carried out an additional day of strike, on Saturday, November 25, to denounce the implementation of this measure.

Compensation for money losses

FIQ nurses should also receive an amount as compensation for the loss of money caused by the strike. Although certain unions affiliated with the FIQ have a strike fund, the national union does not. Rather, it has a solidarity pact.

Sums from this pact will be released in order to partially reimburse the losses incurred by the 80,000 members of the FIQ. The amount of this pact and the terms should be discussed during the week of January 15.

The FIQ has held three strike sessions so far, on November 9 and 10, November 23 and 24, and December 11, 12, 13 and 14.

With Vincent Larin, The Press


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