Workers calling for better pay, reduced workload, improved class composition
100,000 – that’s the number of teachers in Quebec that are currently on strike.
The teachers launched the labour action on Tuesday. They will be on strike until Thursday. They are looking for better working conditions and a boost in pay.
The teachers are members of the Front commun represented by the Fédération des syndicats de l'enseignement (FSE-CSQ) and the Association provinciale des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec (APEQ- QPAT).
The FSE-CSQ consists of 34 unions representing more than 95,000 teachers with school service centres and school boards across Quebec. Meanwhile, QPAT represents more than 8,000 teachers from all education sectors of Quebec's English-language school boards.
"It is high time that the government stops being inflexible and that, beyond the fine and misleading speeches, it takes action and is open at the negotiating tables. We are determined to improve our working conditions, and we have many solutions to offer,” say Josée Scalabrini, president of the FSE-CSQ, and Steven Le Sueur, president of APEQ-QPAT, in a statement.
“We are losing too many teachers in the fight, exhausted from carrying the school network at arm's length. Let us remember that by supporting the demands of teachers, we directly support the learning conditions of students.”
Recently, Ottawa introduced legislation to ban the use of replacement workers in federally regulated workplaces during a strike or lockout.
Quebec teachers’ demands
As the teachers are negotiating their employment contract, they are looking for higher pay than what the government is offering.
Currently, the government is offering teachers a 10.3 per cent increase over five years. This, however, represents “an impoverishment” of 7.8 per cent over the long term for teaching staff, according to the union.
They are also asking for reduced workload, improved class composition, and to lower the excessive number of students in difficulty in a given group.
"More balanced classes, with fewer students in difficulty, provides breathing room for both teachers and students," say Scalabrini and Le Sueur, who adds that the union demands are accompanied by a deployment plan, specifically developed to take into account the shortage.
Last month, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced that its teacher and occasional teacher members voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike.