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Analysis | The dilemma of FAE teachers | Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

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Members of the Autonomous Education Federation begin voting on the agreement in principle on Wednesday.

  • Hugo Lavallée (View profile)Hugo Lavallée

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The disappointment is palpable on social networks, and two of the nine affiliated unions even recommend the rejection of the agreement in principle concluded with Quebec. After going on strike for 22 days, many teachers affiliated with the Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE) hoped for significant progress in terms of class composition and remained unsatisfied.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">If the teachers walked off the job to obtain better salaries, they also wanted – and, perhaps, above all – to see the heaviness of their daily task lightened.< /p>

Under the agreement in principle concluded between the FAE and the government, those who teach in classes where a certain proportion of students are subject to an intervention plan, or have francization needs, will obtain additional support and a salary bonus. In the absence of additional support, the salary bonus will be doubled.

Given this result, many teachers wonder if the game was worth it. A salary bonus is certainly not to be denigrated, but the money risks bringing little comfort to teachers who complain of being overworked and exhausted. Some are also surprised at the percentage of students requiring special attention that will need to be reached to obtain the promised support. The latter was established at 60% at primary level and 50% at secondary level.

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The President of the FAE, Mélanie Hubert

Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

Consult the file complete

Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

Consult the complete file

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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.

  • Hugo Lavallée (View profile)Hugo LavalléeFollow

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