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Analysis | Teachers' strike: we're not out of the woods | Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

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The FAE has been on an indefinite general strike since November 23. (Archive photo)

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Parents who worry about the fate of their children, deprived of school, have no reason to be reassured. The indefinite general strike undertaken by the Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE) has lasted a week now and there is no indication that we are close to a settlement.

Wanting to avoid a repeat of the psychodrama experienced at the end of last summer, when 8,558 teachers were still needed in mid-August, the government insists on the need to review the rules surrounding the allocation of classes before the start of the school year.

The FAE, however, does not see things the same way. Pressed for questions on the subject, its president argued that demands on allocations would take us back 30 years. In addition to constituting interference in local negotiations, government aims will take away choices and opportunities from our staff, denounced Mélanie Hubert.

This The latter is not closed to adjusting ways of doing things, but argues that such a process will take time and that the current negotiation context does not lend itself to it.

What we would like is to be able to do analyses, she explained. Can we really look in more detail and take the time to do serious work that will respect local unions? That’s what we’re asking. In other words, the government and the union would do better to talk about it again with a clear head, once the negotiations are over.

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Mélanie Hubert (center) is president of the Autonomous Education Federation.

Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

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Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

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Since the start of the year, the government and the FAE have nevertheless participated in more than 70 negotiation meetings, according to the website of the union. That we are still at the stage of having to do analyzes is surprising.

Above all, the government is not giving up. Barely two hours after the FAE press conference, François Legault recalled that his main objective remains to finally, finally seek the flexibility that we should have sought for 20 years in collective agreements so that we are able to to provide better services to our children. The government wants to use the current negotiation as leverage to extract concessions; no question of putting off the most difficult discussions until later.

While irritants can undoubtedly be ironed out, attributing the inability of governments to offer better services to collective agreements alone would nevertheless be simplistic. No one has forgotten the significant budget cuts that public services have suffered in recent decades. All claim to have the well-being of students as their main objective, but each still seems stuck in their paradigm and their references.

Even though we have been negotiating for months, we still do not agree on the diagnosis and even less on the remedy to be administered. This is without mentioning the salary question, over which the impasse still persists. The framework of the discussions itself seems problematic, with Mélanie Hubert deploring that we still have to work to unblock the functioning of the [negotiating] tables.

While the member unions of the Common Front and the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) have chosen to wait until the end of next week before continuing the strike, the FAE is continuing the fight alone this week. /p>Open in full screen mode

The Common Front will be on strike again from December 8 to 14.

However, there is no indication that this strategy will allow teachers to reach an agreement more quickly with the government, nor to obtain better working conditions. Ultimately, FAE teachers could even lose more working days than their colleagues from other union organizations. Already, members are worried about not being able to meet their financial obligations. Was it wise to call an indefinite general strike now? Mélanie Hubert responds that she had to slow down some of her members, who wanted to go on strike as soon as the school year started.

In any case, experts are concerned about the impact that these pressure tactics will have on the most vulnerable students. The problem, with young people who already have significant delays or handicaps, is that I have the possibility of regression. […] What we had seen during the pandemic, [is that] the gap between strong and weak students increased because of the lost weeks of class, worries the psychologist and academic success specialist , Égide Royer.

Despite all these apprehensions, nothing in the government's speech, nor in that of the FAE, suggests an outcome to short notice.

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