Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Private companies fear paying the price for this. Common Front agreement | Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

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With the labor shortage work and inflation, the finances of SMEs are taking a hit. (archive photo)

  • Marie-Christine Gagnon (View profile)Marie-Christine Gagnon

If the broad outlines of the agreement between the Common Front unions and the Legault government are known, the fine details are still not known. For groups and associations representing private companies, the wait is suspenseful. They are impatient to see what impact the 17.4% wage increase over five years negotiated for public sector employees will have on the private sector.

The real issue is that these increases translate into increased taxes for small and medium-sized businesses for example, that's the fear , explains Francis Bérubé, director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The inflationary context already makes medium-term forecasts difficult for businesses. Everything is a notion of revenue growth for the government linked to its ability to pay for these increases that have been granted, adds Mr. Bérubé.

Despite this concern at the CFIB, entrepreneurs who left a job in the public sector would not go back.

Nurse Sabrina Dubé, for example, owner of Infirmière à la Maison, employs other healthcare workers. She admits that the salary is lower at the end of the year, but we choose our quality of life, but for the moment, she is not too worried about the increases negotiated for the Front common creates pressure from its employees regarding the salary it offers them.

Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

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Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

Consult the complete file


She believes she has other assets to offer her employees. The nurse-owner sums up her thoughts this way: They choose to work in the private sector. They know that, no matter what, the salary is a little lower than in the public sector.

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Marie-Soleil Tremblay, professor at the National School of Public Administration. (Archive photo)

Professor at the National School of Public Administration (ENAP), Marie-Soleil Tremblay judges that there will not be a major shock at this time with what we are proposing. She recalls that government aid to businesses during the pandemic was reflected in private sector salaries.

At the Employers' Council, we consider that the current economic context puts more pressure on entrepreneurs than the negotiated agreement. The CEO, Karl Blackburn, however, qualifies his remarks by recalling that it is difficult to evaluate the whole proposal as we do not know.

It is in Quebec, among the Canadian provinces, where inflation is the highest, recalls Karl Blackburn. First, greatly accentuated by the labor shortage, which maintains pressure on the labor market.

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Karl Blackburn has been the President and CEO of the Conseil du patronat du Québec since June 2020.

He gives a speech similar to that of nurse Sabrina Dubé: salary is not the priority in workers' choice of companies. This is what emerges from studies and surveys carried out in recent months, he relates.

The fact remains that, according to Francis Bérubé, there is little room for maneuver for SMEs since labor shortage issues have an effect on wages. The lemon is squeezed as much as possible. SMEs compete with larger companies, and in some cases with public sector jobs. This balance must be thought out and reflected upon within the framework of these negotiations.

The draft agreement between the Common Front and the provincial government must still receive the approval of the union authorities and the 420,000 workers who are members of the movement.

With information from Louis- Simon Lapointe and Flavie Sauvageau

Salary increases of 17.4% over five years for Common Front union members

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