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Members of the unions' common front gather to protest at the National Assembly in Quebec City on Nov. 23.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Hundreds of thousands of Quebec public-sector workers are set to resume their strike after rejecting the government’s latest offer, which they say is “very far” from their demand for inflation-adjusted pay and better working conditions.

About 420,000 workers in education, health care and social services plan to strike from Friday to Wednesday. It will follow four days of job action last month, which shut down schools and delayed health care procedures.

This “common front” of four unions known by their initials – CSQ, CSN, APTS and FTQ – declined a revised government proposal made last Wednesday that provided for a 12.7-per-cent pay increase over five years, up from a previous offer of a 10.3-per-cent increase in October.

Like the common front, some 80,000 nurses and other health care professionals represented by the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) also rejected that offer and plan to strike from Monday to Wednesday.

More than 65,000 teachers, mostly from elementary schools and high schools throughout Quebec, have continued their open-ended strike that started on Nov. 23. Their union, the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE) said in a statement Wednesday that they would submit a counterproposal to the government’s offer as soon as possible but declined to comment further.

Gavin Sewell, a parent of an eight-year-old pupil of a Montreal CSN-affiliated school, said the common front’s strike means his son will stay home for the rest of 2023. Mr. Sewell said that despite the inconvenience, he supports striking teachers.

“What I would really hope is that they give them more than what they’re asking for, I mean, God knows they deserve it,” he said.

Magali Picard, president of the FTQ, said the government’s latest offer was “very far” from the common front’s ask.

“It would once again be a step backward for provincial public servants,” she said of the proposal during a news conference Thursday with other union leaders in Quebec City.

Premier François Legault said during Question Period Thursday that his government’s offer covers estimated inflation for the next five years. He added that some workers would see up to a 30-per-cent pay increase to help recruitment in positions that are more difficult to fill.

CSQ president Éric Gingras said the 12.7-per-cent pay increase would cause workers to lose purchasing power because it ignored last year’s inflation. Unions have been asking for a three-year contract with annual increases tied to the inflation rate.

The government’s proposal also states that “the overall offer” increases 16.7 per cent over five years, up from 14.8 per cent in October, but union leaders said this includes money to hire more staff and that no individual worker would see such a raise on their paycheque.

Marylène Le Houillier, a spokesperson for Treasury Board Chair Sonia LeBel, declined to provide more details on the latest offer Thursday.

Mr. Legault said during Question Period that his government is asking the unions for more flexibility, notably on work schedules, “to be able to provide better services but also better working conditions” – a recurring theme of the past few weeks.

Union leaders said during the news conference that, in addition to pay, negotiations were stuck on working conditions and organizational issues. They said they made various proposals to allow for greater flexibility that were ignored and denounced attempts by the government to gain more management power.

FIQ president Julie Bouchard said in an interview Thursday that the government seems to be more interested in making managers’ lives easier rather than negotiating a collective agreement with health care professionals.

“For the government, the ideas we bring when we talk about the organization of work are never good,” she said. She added that fixed schedules available early and developed with staff participation would go a long way in making nursing and related positions more attractive, but that the government resists implementing them.

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APTS president Robert Comeau said he was confident the unions would eventually reach a deal with Ms. LeBel, but more efforts were needed on negotiations by individual sectors. He said talks would continue Thursday.

Gérard Boismenu, a professor of political science at the University of Montreal, said “it has been a long time since the government faced a union movement that was so cohesive and thoughtful in its strategy of negotiation and action.”

Dr. Boismenu, an expert on social movements, said the power balance is favourable to the unions as Mr. Legault’s government has seen falling popular support, according to recent polls.

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