The approximately 210 lawyers in the Quebec legal aid network represented by the Federation of Quebec Legal Aid Lawyers (FAAJQ) voted for a strike mandate to be exercised on June 8 and 9.
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Like their 170 colleagues affiliated with the Confederation of National Trade Unions who walked off the job last week, they are demanding equal pay conditions with prosecutors who are paid more by Quebec.
“This principle of parity with criminal and penal prosecuting attorneys was recognized during negotiations with previous governments. Consequently, it is inconceivable, even unacceptable, that legal aid lawyers, whose collective agreement expired on December 31, 2019, would waive it,” the FAAJQ said in a press release on Wednesday.
The union regrets that the lawyers representing the prosecution are better paid than those defending the litigant while their work is “essential, colossal, diversified and demanding”.
“The government must recognize that our work is up to that of our sisters and brothers in the prosecution,” added the FAAJQ, which recalls that these members defend “vulnerable people in all aspects of their rights”, qu whether it's family matters, domestic violence, youth protection, mental health or defense in criminal law.
The FAAJQ believes that without this pay parity, the entire legal aid network is in danger: “Legal aid lawyers want to pursue their mission in a quality, strong and radiant network. To achieve this, the retention of quality lawyers is essential”.
The strike mandates will be exercised on June 8, in front of the courthouses of Quebec, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Mauricie-Bois-Franc, Côte-Nord, Abitibi Témiscamingue, Outaouais, and Rive-Sud. On June 9, lawyers who are members of the FAAJQ will mobilize in front of the Longueuil and Quebec courthouses before heading to the National Assembly.