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A Group Of Quebec Health Care Workers Is So Fed Up It’s Complaining To The UN

The issue: mandatory overtime.

Contributing Writer
A Group Of Quebec Health Care Workers Is So Fed Up It’s Complaining To The UN

It's no secret in Quebec that health care workers feel overworked. But now the situation could take on global implications.

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) labour organization has reached out to the U.N. to intervene in Quebec's health care management practices, particularly when it comes to "mandatory overtime," which is when a worker is required to cover shifts following their full workday.

In a February 8 letter to the U.N.'s International Labour Organization (ILO), federation president Julie Bouchard says the practice has become the norm in Quebec, often driven by managers' use of "threats and intimidation" to "compel" health care workers to "remain at work beyond their normal working day."

And yet, Bouchard asserts, the practice is largely unsupervised and undocumented.

She says the situation is taking a toll on nurses, both professionally and personally. Decisions about overtime, she contends, are taken without consideration of workers' "personal or family obligations." She further claims union members have reported high levels of stress and fatigue, a "deterioration of the work environment" and even car accidents on the way home.

The FIQ argues that the issue has led staff to resign or require time off, resulting in more mandatory overtime for everybody else.

And Bouchard holds that the practice is even discriminatory since it largely affects women, who, she says, make up "almost 90% of the members of the unions affiliated with the FIQ are women."

Bouchard says the federation is turning to the U.N. agency after trying to solve the problem through other channels — including the Government of Quebec, the courts, and the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse du Quebec.

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