The wage battle begins

The wage battle begins

DAY

Management expects no more labor disputes with wage increases of 4.1% in 2023, well below inflation. On the union side, we anticipate rather difficult negotiations.

“I don't think this situation will generate more labor disputes. There are many other elements that have seen the situation for workers improve without just looking at the wage increase part. […] Employees are not losers,” argues Karl Blackburn, CEO of the Conseil du patronat (CPQ).

The Quebec employers' association published the results of its annual survey yesterday: employers are forecasting an average salary increase of 4.1% for 2023, excluding freezes. 

“This is a very significant increase,” said Mr. Blackburn. This is significantly higher than the past nine years. » 

Yet these estimates are below the current level of inflation. The latter stood at 7.1% for the province in August. Even if it will be necessary to wait until January to know the final data for 2022, Daniel Boyer, president of the Quebec Federation of Workers (FTQ), is already worried.  

The wage battle begins

Photo courtesy Karl Blackburn, President of the CPQ

“My fear is that wages will not necessarily keep up with inflation. There will be a loss of purchasing power. And this is even more true for the lowest wages,” he says. “Very difficult”. 

Mr. Boyer recalls that many negotiations are to come, particularly in the public sector and construction, areas particularly affected by the scarcity of labour. 

More than 2,000 negotiations scheduled for 2023

More than 2,000 collective agreements will expire next year, according to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity. In Quebec, 40% of workers were unionized in 2021, according to data from the Institut de la statistique du Québec. 

“The workers see the inflation and expect that there will be significant increases, they are going to be demanding”, affirms the president of the FTQ. 

The trade unionist perceives already an increase in labor disputes, but also in the number of agreements in principle that are rejected by the assemblies, which is usually rarer. “The bargaining committees have reached agreements with the employers, but that does not suit the workers,” explains Mr. Boyer. He sees it as a harbinger of conflicts to come. 

On Mr. Blackburn's side, we consider that 4.1% is a “sufficient” increase and we do not foresee any risk for labor peace in Quebec. 

The number 1 of the Conseil du patronat du Québec wants employees to take into consideration the adjustments made to the organization of work. He cites flexible working hours, telecommuting, and the offer of performance bonuses as many improvements made to the lot of workers. 

“Employers have made a lot of effort . Labor relations should not be associated with the simple fact of salary,” he adds. Mr. Blackburn also argues that wage increases over the past 12 years have been good for employees.

The number of labor disputes is exploding

After the first three months of the year:

  • 47 disputes
  • 45 strikes< /li>
  • 2 lockouts

Four times more compared to the average of the last three years over a comparable period

< strong>Source: Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity 

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