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Last week President of Quebec civil servants union Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique (SFPQ) Lucie Martineau announced that her union supports the Quebec Charter of Values. The controversial bill would ban overt symbols of religion and set rules around religious requests of public institutions and employees.
The Montreal Gazette reported that Martineau said her members feel "ill at ease with some of these issues." However, online reactions from rank and file members indicated that many were unhappy with Martineau's announcement because they were not consulted before the decision was made to publicly support the Charter. SFPQ represents over 30,000 workers in Quebec.
Meanwhile, several other large unions in Quebec have yet to make a formal statement regarding their position on the Charter. Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Quebec communications spokesperson Robert Bellerose said that his union's last convention was months before the Charter was even on their radar. "In order to have an official statement on this, the discussion has first to be done in our 10 sectors," he explained over email. He believes it will be some time before they release an official statement.
Meanwhile Unifor representatives said they expect an official statement to be issued in the next few days. While by no means official, new Unifor president Jerry Dias did take to his Twitter account to make his feelings about the Charter known: "I'm deeply disturbed by the proposed QC Charter. It's discriminatory. When we should strive to be more open, Quebec is doing the opposite."
Opposition to the Charter in all areas of Quebec has come quickly, with a petition against it growing by the second and protests planned around the province.
H.G. Watson is the labour beat reporter for rabble.ca. She's also the editor-in-chief of the Cord Community Edition in Waterloo, Ontario and has contributed to The Grid, Hamilton Magazine, Worn Fashion Journal Blog and the Story Board.
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