By Michael Boriero
Local Journalism Initiative
A meeting between members of the union representing nurses and Dr. Stéphane Tremblay, the president and director general of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS, took a sharp turn on Wednesday.
The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec – Syndicat des professionnelles en soins des Cantons-de-l’Est (FIQ-SPSCE) presented Tremblay with a mosaic made up of 200 headshots of members who are currently swamped with mandatory overtime hours.
The union also presented an agreement, once again demanding that Tremblay address the negligent use of mandatory overtime among overworked, fatigued, and stressed nurses. He acknowledged their list of grievances, but declined to sign the agreement.
At the end of the meeting, the FIQ-SPSCE members on hand decided to take the opportunity to occupy the Argyll pavilion, the location of the local health authority’s head office, limiting access to the building, and giving Tremblay a taste of mandatory overtime.
“We are staying outside of his office until they tell us to leave, unless he changes his mind and accepts the activity of staying at his desk until midnight in solidarity with the employees,” said FIQ-SPSCE President Sophie Séguin. Security was sent to clear out the area around 3 p.m.
In an interview with The Record, Séguin said nurses are often forced to work up to 16-hour shifts, and it isn’t something that happens sporadically. This is a regular occurrence for every nurse, she continued, and they are guilt-tripped, or harassed, into not taking vacation days.
“We have people leaving the profession every day because they are squeezed and there are beds in our hands, so we can’t make any mistakes, we can’t be inattentive, in order to give the best care possible, and we’re no longer able to do this,” said Séguin.
FIQ-SPSCE Vice-President of Labour Relations Stéphanie Goulet spoke to The Record moments after being escorted off the premises. She said that although Tremblay is well aware of the overtime problem, the union will continue to apply pressure until they see changes.
Subscribe to The Record for the full story and more.