Many criticisms are of course aimed at the government, but others are aimed at the union leadership. Members are questioning the merits of the indefinite general strike and wondering if the senior union authorities have understood what their priorities are.
Unable to go back, the question is what union members will decide to do from now on. For many, accepting the agreement would amount to condoning the current work overload – or even monetizing it – for the five years of the new collective agreement. Still others believe that we must continue action in favor of public schools, while the political context is favorable to teachers, at least if we rely on the polls.
Rejecting the agreement in principle would, however, carry great risks. Unless they want to resume the indefinite general strike, it is difficult to see what leverage would be available to teachers to make the government bend. Parents and citizens could also be more hesitant to support a new strike, in a context where generous salary increases are on the table and where hundreds of thousands of students have already lost a month of class. This is without taking into account the risk of a special law.
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The President of the Treasury Board, Sonia Lebel, is responsible for leading negotiations with public sector employees.
Especially the President of the Treasury Board , Sonia LeBel, could not have been clearer since the start of the negotiations: solutions providing for the addition of personnel cannot be retained in the current context of personnel shortage.
It is of course very difficult to know whether the comments we hear on the left and right are representative of the state of mind of a majority of FAE members. It is also difficult to know what percentage of union members will travel to express their views on the agreement in principle. In the Quebec region, for example, 30% of members participated in the strike vote last fall.
To be endorsed, the agreement must both be approved by a majority of the nine affiliated unions and by an absolute majority of members. All results will be announced simultaneously on February 7.