A general strike by Quebec government lawyers and notaries shows no signs of abating as the provincial government is remaining firm while the bargaining agent has received the approval of the overwhelming majority of its members to shore up its war chest.
Without a contract for more than a year, the 1,100 members of the Les avocats et notaires de l’État québécois (LANEQ) have been on strike since late October to push for a change in the negotiation process from the current mediation process. LANEQ is calling for binding arbitration, buoyed by a compensation committee, with a chair chosen and appointed by both parties. The mandate of the compensation committee would include assessing reasonable compensation while taking into the account the provincial government’s capacity to pay. In exchange, the association is willing to give up its right to strike. (Quebec Crown prosecutors are not part of the strike).
Tomorrow the Quebec government and lawyers on the public payroll, who launched a strike two days ago, will sit at the table before a mediator.
The last time round, when government lawyers negotiated with the Conseil du tresor, the government body that controls the purse strings, only minor issues were settled over the course of six sessions with a mediator, Marc Lajoie, head of the Association des juristes de l’État (AJE), told me.
Quebec Crown prosecutors never even got that far. They negotiated with the help of a conciliator, someone with less powers to forge an agreement than a mediator.
Crown prosecutors want above all binding arbitration. It’s something that they wanted for years, to no avail. They were granted the right to strike by the provincial government in 2003 — something they never asked for and never wanted, said Christian Leblanc, head of the Quebec crown counsel association (APCPPQ).
Thestrike is beginning to have an impact. At least four individuals in three different cases have been acquitted since the strike began two days ago, and the walkout appears to be the culprit. A Toronto man facing speeding charges was acquitted as were two men accused of theft, and a 41-year old woman accused of attempted murder. The Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales, the government body that oversees Crown prosecutors, is contemplating appealing.
Exasperated that labour negotiations with the Quebec government are at a standstill, provincial crown prosecutors and government lawyers have joined forces to launch a general strike that will likely cripple the province’s justice system — unless there is a striking turnabout in the government’s seemingly unyielding stance.