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FAE agreement: parents relieved and teachers divided in Outaouais | Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

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The vote of the members of the last union affiliated with the FAE on the agreement in principle took place on Friday. (Archive photo)

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The vote of members of the last union affiliated with the Autonomous Education Federation (FAE) on the agreement in principle on Friday was closely followed in Outaouais. Since it was narrowly accepted, parents are breathing a sigh of relief.

The fact that it's settled allows us to accept the decision. foresee that the rest of the school year will not be disrupted by other situations in the negotiations, underlines Alain Gauthier, member of the parents committee at the Portages-de-l'Outaouais School Service Center (CSSPO).

In the region, in addition to teachers from CSSPO, those from Draveurs (CSSD) and Cœur-des-Vallées (CSSCV) were on strike for around twenty days from the end of November to the end of December.

[If it had] been a rejection, a return to the negotiating table, we would have returned to the unknown. Our young people still missed almost a month of school because of the strike. […] I think it would have been difficult to foresee other days of strike and so on, continues the father.

We will have to wait until February 7 to know the result of the vote, which will be confirmed by the union delegations during the federal negotiating council. A press conference is planned for Monday to take stock of the state of the negotiations, but the FAE still confirmed on Friday that the agreement in principle of February 28 was accepted by the members.

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Alain Gauthier is the president of the governing board of Mont-Bleu secondary school in Gatineau. (Archive photo)

Strikes in the public sector in Quebec

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Mr. Gauthier is, however, aware that the result is close. Five of the nine affiliated unions voted in favor of the agreement.

I think the fact that it is very close also shows that the negotiations were very difficult. The teachers, the support staff, the school staff enjoyed a lot of support among the population, he continues. I'm glad they approved it, but it's clear that the agreement didn't go as far as many members wanted.

Julie Briand-Picard is one of those teachers disappointed by the outcome of the vote.

What motivated us in the streets to mobilize like this, in December and all that, to have our salaries cut, to experience all kinds of demonstrations, all kinds of ways of getting our messages across, was that we wanted to denounce that the system is working poorly, that there are [real] big [problems], laments Ms. Briand-Picard, who is also a mother.

She is concerned about staff retention since several colleagues left the profession.

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Julie Briand-Picard is a teacher and mother.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">I've always wanted to be a teacher since I was little. It was a dream, then today it completely faded away.

A quote from Julie Briand-Picard, teacher and mother

Ms. Briand-Picard affirms that the agreement in principle does not reflect the ambitions of teachers in terms of class composition, working and learning conditions.

If my children missed so many weeks due to the strike, it was because I knew it was a sacrifice that could be worth it for the future, she argues.

Vote on the agreement in principle: the dilemma of the FAE teachers

Professor at the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO), Jean-François Tremblay believes that teachers were able to vote in favor of the agreement in principle without real joy of heart.

The ratification clearly shows all the divergences that could exist within the FAE, within the teachers, as to the advisability of ratifying this agreement and also as to the response of the agreement to fix problems in classrooms, explains Mr. Tremblay.

The professor indicates that expectations were high due to the scale of the pressure tactics, namely the unlimited general strike, which may explain the disappointment of certain members.

Recall that the Syndicat de l'enseignement de l'Outaouais (SEO) had recommended to its members to accept the agreement. This provides for salary increases of 17.4% over five years, but it is generally the measures which relate to the composition of classes which give rise to discontent.

With information from Rebecca Kwan

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