All cases involving legal aid lawyers in five Quebec regions on Tuesday morning were returned in the afternoon, causing traffic jams after a half -day strike by these lawyers from the State.
Posted at 10:46 am
Updated at 3:22 pm
“Now, the goal is to put some sand in the gears. It’s not going to make some judges and other players in the judiciary happy and that’s not our goal, but it’s the only way for us to be heard. This is what the president did. of the Montreal lawyers union and Laval legal aid Ms.at Justine Lambert-Boulianne, explained the behavior of its members in the forecourt of the Montreal courthouse, while parked, holding signs, lawyers and attorneys in gowns.
The layoffs affected the regions of Montreal, Laval, Laurentides, Lanaudière, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie, the regions where CSN members are legal aid lawyers. They make up about half of the approximately 400 legal aid attorneys across the province.
These lawyers first picket in front of their local legal aid offices and then gather at their local courthouses to demonstrate at lunch time.
They have had no employment contract since Dec. 31, 2019 and are protesting against the Treasury Board’s refusal to maintain equality with Quebec Crown prosecutors.
“We have had equality with Crown prosecutors for 30 years. In some collective agreements, this is firmly stated in a trailer clause. In the last collective agreement, the salary scales are still the same, ”argued Ms.at Lambert-Boulianne.
“What we want is only a renewal, we just want to keep our achievements. »
Legal aid members find it difficult to understand this volte-face on the part of the employer. “We have no explanation. This is part of the failures we have today. They didn’t even come over and sit at the negotiating table to explain to us. The last salary offer we have is dated from the beginning of the year. »
Fighting this arm wrestling can cost the state significantly in the long run. Salary conditions for Crown prosecutors are recommended by an independent committee. However, this three-person committee submitted two reports: one, mostly, recommended an increase of approximately 20% over four years; one, a minority, recommended 10% over four years, which Quebec agreed to.
“The crown prosecutors are in the Court of Appeal,” explained Mr.at Lambert-Boulianne. They dispute the minority report. Prosecutors are working their way into the judicial system and it can go to the Supreme Court and it will take several years.
“Meanwhile, there is an agreement reached between the prosecutors and the government to the effect that they will have at least a minority report,” he explains.
At the same time, Quebec submitted to legal aid lawyers the same increases as those offered in public service, namely 6% over three years.
The union president recalled in the passage that “the Minister (of Justice, Simon) Jolin-Barrette has set up a package of projects in the field of justice in recent months. He has a lot on the plate, but he has not. injecting the necessary amounts into the field for key players in the legal system. »
Mat Lambert-Boulianne argues that its members are at the forefront of these files, which nevertheless qualify as priorities, such as youth rights, marital or sexual violence or advocacy against change.
“Without us, a weak person has no access to the justice system.
“And it is completely incoherent to think that they will manage to improve delays in courthouses, as they promise, without putting money where it is needed, without paying their actors to the justice system. »
Mat Lambert-Boulianne believes the time has come for Minister Jolin-Barrette to intervene, because the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, seems unwilling to budge.
He recalled that ministers Sonia LeBel and Simon Jolin-Barrette, both lawyers, had come out in favor of pay equality between legal aid lawyers and Crown prosecutors in the past.
“Mat Sonia LeBel is a Crown prosecutor. He has always appreciated the work of legal aid lawyers. In 2018, when he was still in opposition, he spoke in favor of parity. Same thing for Mr. Jolin Barrette and now there is silence on the radio. They refused to keep their word. »
CSN union members unanimously voted in favor of a three-day strike order and further layoffs could not be lifted in the coming weeks. These attorneys are not subject to the Essential Services Act.