Solidarity with Quebec Workers, OFL-style

The Ontario Federation of Labour, which has nearly one million affiliated union members, convened a downtown Toronto rally of less than twenty people, including several union staffers, ostensibly to show support for the historic mass strike that took place across Quebec on November 6. Was that the most participation that the resourceful OFL could summon? Is that what solidarity looks like? Or was the miniature gathering designed to demonstrate a new definition of the word tokenism?

Below is a report from CBC on the Quebec Common Front day of action.

The unions representing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers who walked off the job today have announced three more strike days planned for Nov. 21 to 23 unless a deal can be reached before then. About 420,000 public sector workers are striking Monday as part of a one-day walkout meant to put pressure on the Quebec government. Large protests are taking place across the province.

Monday’s job action started at midnight and, starting this morning, is expected to cause headaches for parents of school-age children, with striking staff in schools expected to start work only at 10:30 a.m. For English school boards, that means classes will begin at 11 a.m. Most of the French school service centres, if not all of them, have opted to cancel classes in the morning and bring in students in the afternoon. CEGEPs will be closed until noon.

Some disruptions are expected in health-care settings, with staff expected to have reduced workloads, but essential services will be provided. The workers are part of a common front of unions, known in French as the Front commun. Members are looking for better wages and working conditions after quickly dismissing the province’s latest offer on Oct. 28.

In that latest offer, base salaries would increase by 10.3 per cent — just over a percentage point higher than the previous offer — while some jobs would get an extra 2.5 to three per cent increase. The common front has called for an increase closer to 20 per cent over the next three years.

The common front is made up of the following entities:

The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ).
The Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).
The Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS).
The Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ).
Quebec Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel reacted to the strike Monday on X, formerly Twitter, saying while public employees should benefit from good working conditions, unions must also help reorganize the system.

Lebel says if unions are not satisfied with the government’s latest offer, they need to make a counter-offer. “Negotiations cannot be a one-way street,” she wrote. The Quebec government is juggling multiple labour disputes and there will likely be more strike days from other unions starting later this week.

The Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), the province’s largest health union, is scheduled to go on strike Thursday and Friday. Last Thursday, the Fédération Autonome de l’Enseignement, which represents a group of teachers’ unions which have about 65,000 members total, announced its plans to go on an unlimited strike as of Nov. 23.