Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Despite the ratification of the agreement in principle, many doubts remain about the capacity of the education network to transform.

Analysis | Someone’ does he emerge as a winner from the negotiation with the FAE?

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The agreement in principle between Quebec and the Autonomous Education Federation (FAE) was narrowly accepted. (Archive photo)

  • Hugo Lavallée (View profile)Hugo Lavallée

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Even if their official reaction held In just a few words, the Minister of Education and the President of the Treasury Board must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE) confirmed on Friday that the x27;agreement in principle reached between it and the government had been ratified by its members.

After the experience of the fall, a return to the negotiating table would have been as unpredictable as it was perilous, in a context of great concern on the part of parents and of great frustration on the part of the teaching staff.

The next negotiations will not take place for several years, which should in theory calm things down and provide stability to the network. In the current context, however, nothing is less certain.

It is often said that an agreement is preferable to no agreement ;understanding, or worse, to a special law, but one could hardly imagine a context so unfavorable to the entry into force of a new collective agreement.

Teachers are disappointed and divided as we have rarely seen, at least judging by the results of the extremely close votes held in recent weeks. The agreement in principle was ratified by the skin of the buttocks, by a few percentage points. Nearly half of the teachers who spoke out rejected it – and many of them didn't even bother to participate in the process.

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Among those who were in favor of it, many did so out of weariness, or out of fear that new means of pressure would deprive them of income or exacerbate tensions.

The frustration is evident with the government, which has not responded to their most pressing requests regarding the composition of the class , but also with regard to their union leaders who, at the end of an indefinite general strike, concluded an agreement which did not contain the hoped-for progress.

In one camp as in the other, we bet that good salary increases would ease the frustrations of union members, but we clearly did not understand the essence of the message expressed by the rank and file.< /p>

As for the government, we are still waiting for it to explain to us what substantial gains the negotiation has enabled it to achieve. Class assignments will now be done earlier during the month of August, which will avoid the back-to-school psychodrama experienced last summer, when more than 8,000 teachers still had to be recruited just a few days away. back to school. However, it is difficult to understand what this will actually change for the rest of the year.

Parents and citizens have reason to be skeptical in all cases. The government justifies the salary increases agreed by saying that it has obtained flexibility from teachers which will improve the quality of services, while the latter repeat that the new collective agreement will not resolve any of the problems experienced on the ground on a daily basis.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">And if the case of the FAE is the one that has attracted the most attention, the situation is not very different within the other union centers.

From the start, the current negotiation was supposed to be the occasion for major structural changes.

In a press briefing in December 2022, flanked by her colleagues Bernard Drainville and Christian Dubé, the president of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, explained at length the need to x27;make substantial changes to the collective agreements of employees in the education and health networks, in order to offer better services to Quebecers.

If we always do things the same way, we will always get the same results. Now is the time to act to end this cycle. Quebec is ripe to tackle the problems head on, to finally be able to move in the right direction, she declared.

In the media, union leaders had made much the same type of remarks, evoking the need for a major shift, insisting that the status quo is not an option. These arguments have only amplified in recent months, as pressure tactics have gained momentum.

Just before the holidays, the discourse no longer revolved so much around working conditions as the idea that public schools had to be saved. This is without taking into account that, to mobilize teachers, potential advances were dangled for which the government had not yet shown the slightest openness.

In short, on both sides, we have raised expectations, both from teachers, but also from parents. That the bitterness is so strong today is not surprising, in the context where we hear that little will change in terms of work organization.

As the negotiation process comes to an end, it is difficult to see how all the rhetoric heard in recent months will really help to upgrade the profession and attract new recruits. Recently, examples of teachers having left or considering leaving the profession have multiplied in the media. We've already seen better advertising!

Within the teaching profession, the new employment contract seems to arouse less hope than disappointment, with teachers already raising their demands for the next negotiation scheduled in four years. The strike will also leave scars on the working climate and the state of mind of many teachers. Bitter, many union members will be tempted to point the finger at the new collective agreement if things do not improve as expected.

Even within the FAE, upheavals are also to be expected. Dissatisfied with the progress of the last negotiations and the strategy adopted, members are already demanding changes to the union's ways of doing things – from the statutes of the organization to the management of assemblies, including the composition of the union. current executive.

In the meantime, in many ways, it is doubtful that the fresh start promised and hoped for, both by the government and teachers , at the start of negotiations, actually takes place.

  • Hugo Lavallée (View profile)Hugo LavalléeFollow

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