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Lawyers: the special law is filed, the negotiations are suspended


The President of the Treasury Board, Pierre Moreau Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathieu Dion


According to the law, the 1,100 lawyers and notaries in all government departments and agencies will have to be on Wednesday at 8:30 am They will have to stop participating in the current strike, or face sanctions.


The special law does not address the demands of their union, the lawyers and notaries of the State of Quebec (LANEQ), which deal with parity with Crown attorneys. However, a section is given to the negotiations. They must continue "in good faith, for a maximum period of 45 days".


The bargaining period may be extended by the Minister of Labor only once at the request of LANEQ and the government. However, the extension period can not last more than 15 days. In total, the parties have 105 days to reach an agreement.


In the absence of an agreement, both sides can agree on the appointment of a mediator who will have 30 days to settle the dispute. The appointment of a conciliator may also be granted.


In the event of failure, the collective agreement, which expired on March 31, 2015, will be renewed until 2020 when the Minister releases the mediator's report.


The government would then renew the proposals for salary increases already granted to the Common Front of the public sector, ie 5.25% over five years, but withdraw its offer of an additional 2% that it had previously proposed for 2019-2020. The legislation also provides an amount of $ 0.30 for each hour paid between April 2015 and March 31, 2016, and $ 0.16 for each hour paid between April 2019 and March 31, 2020.


Treasury Board President Pierre Moreau said in a press briefing that the 2% salary increase had been withdrawn because it was linked to concessions from the union side, but he added that could be discussed again at the table.


Hours of debate


The debate on the principle of the bill began at night in the National Assembly and continued throughout the night. The question period was rough. The vote on the principle took place at 4 pm, before proceeding to the detailed study of the special law. The final vote is scheduled for Tuesday at around 2 pm


"No one likes to impose constraints or impose them. We did not choose a special law. LANEQ's conduct challenged us to make a special law. The uncompromising attitude of LANEQ did not leave us the choice, "said Pierre Moreau, President of the Treasury Board.


                      "It is not easy for me to introduce the bill ensuring the continuity of the provision of legal services in the government."

                              - Pierre Moreau, President of the Treasury Board


Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée has argued that the conflict affects access to justice and causes delays in some cases.


Pierre Moreau assured that the employer's salary offer, at $ 116,000 per year, offers parity with Crown attorneys, as requested by LANEQ.


Opposition parties have strongly criticized the Liberal government's attitude during the four-month negotiations. The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) has already announced that it will vote against the special law.


                    " It is liberal intransigence at its climax. The government's trademark is imposing, gagging."

                              - Alain Therrien, Parti Québécois critic for the economy


Treasury Board President Pierre Moreau has responded to critics of opposition parties who accuse him of not speaking to lawyers. "I met the LANEQ president three times at his request. There have been negotiations for two years, there have been six offers of the government, "he defended.


"Amateur work" according to LANEQ


LANEQ called the law text "amateurish". "Not only has the government forgotten to include the 180 Revenue lawyers currently on strike, but it has omitted the third-party dispute resolution mechanism that is now mandatory for any back-to-work legislation," said the president. union, Jean Denis.


LANEQ announced in the evening that it would challenge the future law, until the Supreme Court if necessary.


The Barreau and the Chambre des notaires du Québec have repeatedly asked the government to use mediation, rather than adopt a special law. They suggested appointing a neutral mediator, but the government refuses. "The parties should make every effort to avoid the special law," says the batonière du Québec, Claudia Prémont.


The president of the Chamber of Notaries, Gérard Guay, fears for him that the work climate is escalating. "It is obvious that a special law, to be imposed that, it will necessarily disrupt the work of the jurists of the State. Everyone recognizes it, even the minister, that they have an important job. "


The parties left the negotiating table after two hours of talks on Monday afternoon. The government and lawyers say they are ready to negotiate 24 hours a day. LANEQ says it is waiting for a call from the government.


Their disputes are mainly about the status of the state's lawyers. They want parity with independent crown attorneys. But Minister Pierre Moreau has already said that it was not possible.