In addition to wage demands, the workers were protesting deteriorating working conditions and cuts in health care, education, and other government services. Keith Ulsenheimer, a school janitor, told the Militant that full-time janitors are forced to work harder because the administration refuses to hire enough people to do the job. A nurse at the St-Luc hospital described working conditions there. We have to work through our breaks, she said. We dont have enough skilled nurses in intensive care. We are doing double shifts.
Three years ago the Quebec government imposed a wage freeze on 475,000 government workers. The unions are demanding a wage increase of 13.25 percent over three years. The government has offered 6.5 percent over five years. The Quebec government says that it cant afford the workers demands because of its deficit. Meanwhile, in the past week nurses at two Montreal area hospitals have staged walkouts to protest worsening working conditions.
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