Since Tuesday, employees of Montreal's public transit network (who are part of a trade union) asked for a salary raise of 2% per year in a contract of 3 years. With a basic salary of $42,972 per year (including social benefits), these people don't have any reason to complain. Indeed, this basic salary almost corresponds to what a Quebecker teacher will earn after five years, starting with a salary of $36,196! Besides, since the maximum salary is $54,870, most people working in Montreal's public transit network earn $53,435.
When Montreal's mayor Gérald Tremblay said that there will be no salary raise, the leader of the Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) Mario Dumont supported him. Moreover, Dumont didn't hide his thoughts about the possibility to promulgate at the National Assembly a "special law" that can break strikes from employees of public transit networks in Quebec.
"The real question is: who speaks for the average people. Who defend the average people in Quebec?" This was the ludicrous question that Jean Charest threw in the National Assembly yesterday, in the first place, in response to an annoying public transit strike that is paralyzing Montreal's bus and subway.
However, the real question is:"Who runs Quebec?" Is it Quebec's current Premier Jean Charest or rather Mario Dumont, the leader of the Official Opposition?
When he made his speech to begin the work at the National Assembly, Jean Charest promised that his government will be "different". His government is so "different" that he always seems ready to get hung up to Mario Dumont in order to take decisions! In fact, in the first hours of the strike, Jean Charest didn't even react and Quebec's Labour minister David Whissell vaguely said that some negotiations must be done.
After he occupied the back stage in the media for one day, Quebec's Labour minister David Whissell finally said yesterday that the employees of the Société des Transports de Montréal (STM) and their employers will have "48 hours" to negotiate. This response was done right after the meeting between Mario Dumont and Montreal's mayor Gérald Tremblay. As for the Parti Québécois (PQ), its members certainly didn't want to offend unionists (their traditional allies).
This crisis, once again, shows that Jean Charest didn't understand Quebeckers' message. In fact, the lack of response from Quebec's government for one day showed that Jean Charest is unable to occupy the front stage in the media. Furthermore, it's the second time that Charest takes a decision in response to a declaration of Mario Dumont! This makes us wonder if Charest is Dumont's puppet.
Unlike Jean Charest, Mario Dumont certainly knew what was the reaction from most Montrealers because of the strike. You can also consider the fact that during the election, Mario Dumont didn't get any ridings from Montreal. Obviously, with what they saw yesterday, Montrealers can't say that the leader of the ADQ can't "feel" their pulse, because he was the first politician who tried to propose a solution to end this public transit strike, in the first place, and therefore to defend their interests.