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Communique on the Strike in the Public Sector in Quebec - Canada (November 6th 2023) 

Don’t Get Bogged down by the Unions’ Divisive Slogans!
Strike Now, in all Trades and Sectors, United and at the Same Time!

Little is known internationally about the start of the “indefinite strike” in the public sector “organized” by the unions in the Canadian province of Quebec. Over 420,000 proletarians have been thus called out on strike for wage increases, starting tomorrow November 7th. The call is being made by a whole cohort of craft and other unions, following a legal vote. 95% of voters approved the principle of an “unlimited strike” in October. For non-North American militants, proletarians and readers, let’s be clear from the outset that “indefinite strike” actually means the organization by unions of rotating strikes that do not even affect an entire sector, or even one trade, and often not even one workplace at a time. Canadian and Quebec labor regulations mirror those in the U.S., which are largely based on the “closed-shop” system, with the union indirectly, and in some cases directly, managing the hiring of workers. Above all, this “union right” effectively prohibits any extension or unification of the proletarian struggle beyond sectors and corporations. Only... ineffective strikes are authorized. And if need be, if the legal process of union-management negotiation is not enough, the state will prohibit strikes, as was the case in the railways in the USA in 2022, or as the dockers on strike of the west coast of Canada were threatened with [1].

The movement which begins tomorrow and should “increase” on November 21, 22 and 23, according to the Trade Union Common Front, is being cut up and sabotaged by the unions from the outset. The Common Front is made up of the main trade union centers. Tomorrow, school janitors, teachers and hospital employees will be on strike for a few hours. They will return to work at 10:30 a.m. Now that’s “indefinite strike action” union-style. On November 8 and 9, nurses called by the FIC, a nurses’ union that is not part of the Common Front, will be on strike for two days. And FAE teachers will be on strike from November 23. That day there should be more than 500,000 workers on strike. So, rotating and pearl strikes, “divided” unions, no appeal to the private sector and assemblies controlled by the unions and some of them, incidentally, are joining the nationalist-pacifist pro-Palestine demonstrations. The framework imposed by the unions and the state suggests that this movement is already totally under control and will be “ineffective” from a class point of view. However, it does express a certain combativeness on the part of the proletariat, and a class battle that communists cannot ignore.

The leaflet we republish below is distributed at demonstrations and workplaces. It is the emanation of Montreal’s No War But Class War committee. It was written last August, at the announcement of the union mobilization. It already warned workers against union sabotage aimed at stifling and sabotaging any minimally “effective” reaction against the attacks, in particular the inflation-driven fall in wages – itself worsened by the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. In addition to the fighting orientations put forward, the merit of this leaflet is to underline the historical significance of workers’ struggles of resistance today: “This struggle for higher wages is objectively contributing to slowing down the march towards generalised war.” The formula may seem quick and mechanical. Perhaps it would have merited a more substantial argument. Nevertheless, it remains true that today’s workers’ struggles are no longer determined solely by the crisis – the defense of national capital against economic rivals – but also by the needs, more or less direct depending on the country, of the pushes towards generalized war; in particular, the need to develop war economies and rearm. In this situation, every workers’ struggle represents, objectively and regardless of the consciousness of the proletarians involved, a dynamic of opposition to the crisis and the march towards war of its own national capital. This applies both economically and ideologically, by tending – and only by tending – to break with the framework of defense of national capital and national unity with its own bourgeoisie.

As for the orientations put forward by the leaflet, they remain valid overall, even if they are now, on this Monday, the first day of the strike and mobilization, behind the needs of the movement. It is no longer so much a question, as a matter of priority, of calling for the formation of struggle committees or others to prepare and encourage a truly “unlimited and united” strike and its extension beyond the public sector. Today, in the first days of the movement, it is about :

- to call directly on all public-sector professions and corporations to go on strike at the same time and all together;

- to call on them to extend the strike beyond the public sector to the private sector;

- to call all proletarians of Quebec, public and private, to an immediate and unlimited strike, breaking with national unity and the ban on real strikes.

And if there are struggle committees, it is up to them to focus all their efforts on these slogans.

The IGCL, November 6th 2023

A Workers’ Front, Not A Front for Unions!
(“No War But Class War” Committee of Montreal)

Quebec’s public sector workers are preparing to take on the state with wage demands aimed at countering the effects of inflation, attacks on pensions and better working conditions. For 2023: an increase of $100 per week for all workers or the application of a permanent annual indexation mechanism based on the consumer price index (CPI) plus a 2% increase, whichever is more advantageous: in 2024: application of a permanent annual indexation mechanism based on the CPI, plus a 3% increase: in 2025: application of a permanent annual indexation mechanism based on the CPI, plus a 4% increase.Other demands have been made by the CF: on retirement, parental rights, regional disparities and group insurance.

Capital and the capitalists in each country attack the entire working class, regardless of union or status, private or public employee, full-time or part-time worker, pensioner or student.

This struggle is taking place in a global context where capital is seeking to impose increasing sacrifices on all proletarians. This struggle for higher wages is objectively contributing to slowing down the march towards generalised war. From a global perspective, this struggle correlates with capital mobilizing itself into an economy of imperialist war. Faced with declining profitability capital can only offer misery and militarism.

With the exception of the 1972 Common Front, in which the unions partially lost control of the movement, all of them saw one of the central trade union bodies make compromises during negotiations and abandon the others. The CF’s struggles over the years have followed the same pattern: denunciations of the government’s offers, a series of press conferences, futile and pointless actions (wearing jumpers, black armbands, petitions, etc.). They denounce the government’s offers, hold a series of press conferences, engage in futile and pointless actions (wearing sweaters, black armbands, petitions, etc.), hold tightly controlled demonstrations (blaring flutes, deafening drums and compromise or reformist slogans), hold strikes lasting from one to a few days per sector or per union, make no connection with workers in the private sector or in other Canadian provinces, and finally reach a cut-price agreement between the government and the other unions that have not left the CF. Sometimes the threat or passage of special legislation puts an end to the CF. Most unions then recommend that their members change government and vote PQ or QS or divert the struggle to the courts by challenging the law over a period that can last for years. Not content with sabotaging the struggle of public sector workers, the unions are putting forward parliament, election campaigns, the judicial system and bourgeois democracy in general, which can no longer be used by the workers for its affirmation as a class and for the development of its struggles. Any call to participate in the electoral process and to vote only reinforces the mystification presenting these elections as a real choice for the exploited.

What can we do in the face of this sabotage of the struggle by the unions?

We need to prepare for a general strike by creating strike or struggle committees bringing together all workers, regardless of their union allegiance, whether they are union members or not, or what their job is. This is the first way to fight against divisions and the weakening of our forces. We need to take part in union meetings and put forward proposals to counter the division and sabotage of the unions, especially if they come back with the same proposals that have failed in the past: isolated first actions, sector strikes, one or two-day strikes and even a few hours strike per union, moratorium, request for arbitration and conciliation. The latter two are also being put forward by the government. We should send delegations to different workplaces, to militant general assemblies; in short, use all the means that contribute to unifying our common struggle in defence of our living and working conditions, achieving the unity of our living conditions and our struggle. Workers need to look back on lessons learned in previous struggles. In particular, the successes of forming delegations, extending strikes, and forming their own bodies as was the case in 1972 as well as anything else on the table available to the most militant of the class today.

What is demanded is a common front of workers, and not of unions.

We must resist by extending and unifying the fight against capital and the forces of the state apparatus that support and defend it.

August 31, 2023
NWBCW-Montréal email:



[1. See RW #25, On the Recent Strike of the British-Columbia Dockers,