The North Star


5000 workers protest in Laval

“Legault and all the others are destroying Quebec as we know it”

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Exasperated by the Quebec government's contempt for the public sector strike, over 5,000 Common Front workers gathered on December 12 at Montmorency College in Laval to express their frustration. Organized by the Montmorency College unions, the event brought together members of the CEGEPs of Greater Montreal, as well as Transco school bus drivers. The latter were present in support of their United Front comrades, even though their own strike is taking place independently of that of the public sector.

At around 12.15pm, a series of four speeches celebrated the spirit of solidarity at the event. In front of the crowd, the speakers highlighted the frustration of public service employees in the face of decades of budget cuts, the erosion of collective agreements and reforms attacking public services.

The representatives also reminded the government that their organizations are ready to launch an unlimited general strike if they do not get the respect they deserve at the bargaining table.

"We're here because Legault, Dubé, Lebel, Drainville, Déry and all the others are destroying Quebec as we know it," said Amélie Therrien, President of the Montmorency College Teachers' Union, denouncing the step-by-step dismantling of "everything that still makes Quebec seem like a welcoming land, a place where it's not just the power of money that allows us to study and be cared for."

"We're here to say that it's not workers' lack of flexibility that prevents the government from providing good services, it's the lack of resources and recognition. We're here to say that we won't let Legault run the public sector like a business and, above all, we're here to say that if Legault wants things to stir, well, they will."

Following in her footsteps, Ariane Lauzon, president of the Syndicat des employé(e)s de soutien du C.E.G.E.P. de Saint-Laurent, declared: "We're fed up with being impoverished, we can't go on like this, we work full-time, we want to feed our families, we want to keep our purchasing power, that's why we're fighting, that's why we're here."

In turn, Philippe Soucy, vice-president of the Syndicat des professionnels et des professionnelles du Cégep de Saint-Laurent-CSN, emphasized the importance of the current strike. "We need this negotiation to be a turning point to reverse the trend, to have better conditions, better wages too, because our real wages have been going down in the public sector for 20, 30 years, it's unbelievable! We can no longer accept this, and it's going to end with the historic mobilization we're seeing right now!"

"It's not a joke, it's the longest strike in the public sector in 50 years," said Dominique Daigneault, President of the Conseil central du Montréal Métropolitain-CSN. "For 50 years! Why is that? Because we're sick and tired of being screwed at the bargaining table, and then we stand up to be respected! [...] But the time for contempt is over."

The third wave of the United Front strike was launched on December 8 and is due to end on the 14th, 7 days later. The conflict is intensifying and frustrations are mounting, both at the Common Front and the FAE, so much so that the conflict could well spill over after the holiday season.

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