Half a million people are striking in Quebec


Quebec is currently grappling with one of the most significant labor movements in recent years, as public sector workers, including major union federations such as the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE) and the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), intensify their strikes to push the government into renegotiating collective agreements.
Approximately 560,000 people, constituting around six and a half percent of Quebec’s population, are actively participating in the strikes. The widespread actions have disrupted public services, resulting in school closures and the cancellation of numerous medical appointments due to the absence of essential personnel in hospitals.

Current Scenario in Quebec:

As the strikes enter their weeks-long duration, the future remains uncertain. The FAE has been in a general unlimited strike since November 23, and there are indications that the common front, a coalition representing over 420,000 public sector workers, may join this unprecedented move if a resolution is not achieved by the new year.

A general unlimited strike is a bold step, characterized by a work stoppage without a predefined end date. The common front, in conjunction with the FAE, could escalate the situation further. The government has explicitly stated its reluctance to enact back-to-work legislation, leaving the striking workers with the option to continue until an agreement is reached.

Union leaders have scheduled two days of general meetings commencing on December 18, during the common front’s seven-day strike. This period is identified as crucial for presenting a tentative agreement to members. Robert Comeau, the president of the Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS), emphasized the urgency, stating that failing an agreement, a general unlimited strike might be the only viable option.

A potential general unlimited strike by the common front would result in the indefinite closure of all public schools in the province. Currently, with only the FAE on such a strike, only schools with FAE personnel—primarily French schools—are affected, emphasizing the widespread impact such a move could have on the entire education system.

As Quebec faces the largest labor movement in years, the trajectory of the strikes remains uncertain. The coming days and the scheduled meetings will play a pivotal role in determining whether a resolution is within reach or if the situation will escalate further, causing more disruptions to essential public services.

Sumann Senguptaa

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