Collective bargaining in the public sector, 2003–2005
The CCSPP takes a look back
A review of negotiations in the public sector to assess what happened stems from very commendable objectives. One of these objectives is no doubt to share our thinking and analyses and draw the lessons that will help us improve our practices and be better equipped to face the music in the future.
In the more than 30 years that we have squared off with the government-as-employer in massive confrontations, any evaluations that have been done have, to varying degrees, included a factual description of events and an analysis of prevailing conditions.
Given the number of players and organizations concerned, the level of difficulty involved in coming to a common reading of prevailing conditions has often been proportional to how harmonious the bargaining process was. Some rounds – in 1983, for instance – ended without any co-ordinated evaluation being done; in other cases, like the 1989 round, the evaluation was a partial one. After that, given the period of extensions and bargaining that followed, the next CCSPP review, assessing the 1999-2000 round of bargaining, was not adopted until 2001.
Today, should we do an evaluation that would basically consist in a detailed inventory of our actions or omissions in a specific timeframe, and then try to arrive at some consensual analyses? Such a document would certainly be useful, because it could provide a checklist and reference source for future attempts at understanding how this round of bargaining unfolded. It could also be very educational, inasmuch as the main historical reference points that provide the cornerstone for our analysis are the ones that will probably be encountered in the future.
Given how the last round of collective bargaining unfolded, however, and the major changes that occurred, the changing balance of power in the public sector and the tarnished credibility of the process at the end of the process, the discussion would be better served by examining more macro aspects of the dynamics at play in the renewal of our collective agreements over a period extending beyond the months of 2003-2005.
We have therefore chosen to submit some tentative ideas and hypotheses for collective consideration instead of making formal recommendations to be adopted. This will perhaps give us the flexibility needed to be as useful as possible in providing food for thought for those who follow us in the next round of collective bargaining.
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To reach the web page of the Regroupement cégep on the last negotiations, including, the balance sheet produced, click here.