Hundreds of state engineers staged a symbolic march on the Quebec Bridge on the occasion of their first day of strike, Friday morning, to denounce an “inconceivable” salary delay.
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“The civil engineer in the government is the one who is the least well paid in all of Quebec. It is inconceivable! “Plague Marc-André Martin, president of the Professional Association of Government Engineers of Quebec (APIGQ).
Around 8:30 a.m., he was one of some 700 individuals to cross the link between the two shores to denounce the government’s lack of openness in their negotiations, which have been going on for more than two years.
A symbolic gesture for the organizers since it represents the gateway to the city where most of the members of the APIGQ are located. It is also infrastructure that government engineers have been working on for decades.
“With the $77 billion that will be invested in infrastructure over the next three years, there is money for everyone, except for the engineers who will have to manage these major investments. It’s incomprehensible,” laments Mr. Martin, who represents nearly 1,800 workers.
A delay to catch up
The strike that began Friday is a “direct reaction” to the salary offer tabled by the Secretariat of the Treasury Board. According to APIGQ, this offer would not be higher than current inflation.
Yet a report issued by Judge Paul-Arthur Gendreau in 2019 indicated that government engineers were 32.1% behind their colleagues in other public services and cities.
On average, the remuneration of other government professionals is “only” 18.7% lower compared to their market.
This situation causes a major problem in terms of attracting and retaining engineering expertise within the State, it is said.
“We are ready to water down our wine. They are asked to be as late as the others, with a catch-up of 14.7%. But the Treasury Board brushes it aside without explaining why,” denounces Marc-André Martin.
Bitume Québec, which brings together the province’s asphalt suppliers, said it was worried on Thursday about the “dramatic” consequences of such a strike on the various major road sites which are due to begin in the coming weeks.
APIGQ also confirms that the strike, if it continues, will have major impacts in the province. “We want a quick outcome, but we are ready for it to last,” says the president of the association.
The Ministry of Transport (MTQ) indicates for its part that essential services, in particular inspections or emergency interventions, will be maintained.
Invited to react, the Secretariat of the Treasury Board indicated that it had submitted “a significant offer which meets the concerns […] of the Gendreau report, [incluant] an increase in remuneration and proposals, which demonstrates the seriousness given by the government to engineers”.
About a hundred members of APIGQ also gathered in Montreal, in front of the offices of the Main Directorate General of the MTQ region.