The longest Canadian strike by public civil servants came to an abrupt end after the Quebec government passed a special law that compelled striking government lawyers and notaries back-to-work following a labour conflict that paralyzed the province’s administrative justice system and incapacitated the government’s efforts to pass legislation and enact regulations.
The unusual back-to-work decree calls for the provincial government and Les avocats et notaires de l’État québécois (LANEQ) to return to the negotiating table to bargain “in good faith” with the help of a mediator whose recommendations are non-binding. If an agreement is not reached within 105 days following the passage of Bill 127, the provincial government will impose a labour agreement that calls for a 5.25 per cent salary increase over five years compared to the 9.15 per cent increase Quebec’s 450,000 public sector workers received.
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.
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.