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Striking Quebec government lawyers may be forced back to work

|Written By Gabrielle Giroday

The end of a strike involving government lawyers and notaries in Quebec may be on the horizon, says a union representative.

Francois Desroches Lapointe says members were under the impression for the past few months there was no special legislation in mind to force those on strike back to work.

Francois Desroches Lapointe, a councillor on the board of the Les avocats et notaires de l'État québécois, says 1,050 members have been on strike since October. He says some lawyers and notaries have had to contribute essential services, but about two-thirds of people have not worked at all since the strike began.

“We’ve been on strike for a really long time. People are not getting paid at all, because we don’t have any money in the union funds,” he told Legal Feeds on Monday, but noted members are still committed to the strike.

“It’s not really about the money, it’s about our profession, so I’d say that people are really determined still, even though they are really angry the negotiations could not progress as much as we wanted,  and of course, now that there is the legislation that is coming on, people are really, really angry,” he says.

Desroches Lapointe says members were under the impression for the past few months there was no special legislation in mind to force those on strike back to work.

“But, they completely changed their position about that last Thursday when the minister responsible for negotiations for the government announced in the media that they were making us a final offer on Thursday night, and we had 24 hours to respond to that offer,” he says.

Desroches Lapointe said after the offer was received, the union’s executive board responded with a counter-offer.

This past weekend, a negotiation meeting was scheduled, but Desroches Lapointe said the minister announced  that special legislation would come before the National Assembly of Quebec to force strikers back to work. Debate over the issue was anticipated to occur at the assembly on Monday night, says Desroches Lapointe.

“. . .What is obvious that they are going to force us back to work because that’s what they announced,” says Desroches Lapointe.

“The main issue in the strike is that we want the recognition that our profession is particular , and if we need a different mode of negotiation than the traditional mode of  negotiation, we want something that is non-conflictual, because every time we have to negotiate our work conditions, it’s really , really hard with Quebec’s government, and. . .the past experience is really negative,” he says.

A spokeswoman for Quebec’s Treasury Board President Pierre Moreau did not respond to a request for comment.


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