ETSB staff to strike on Oct. 28

Matthew McCully
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By Matthew McCully
Staff Writer

All teachers, support staff and professionals of the Eastern Townships School Board will exercise the first of a six-day strike mandate on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

All schools, centres and affiliated daycares will be closed, according to ETSB Chairman Mike Murray.

The strike will happen in conjunction with the Common Front, which represents over 400,000 health and social services, education and public sector workers across the province.
According to the Common Front website, striking will rotate across the province throughout the week of Oct. 26.

The ETSB strike on Oct. 28 will include the rest of the Eastern Townships region, as well as Central Quebec, Monteregie and the Mauricie.

According to the long-term plan laid out in a press release sent out by the Common Front, the ETSB could see two additional strike days on Nov. 12 and 13.

Appalachian Teachers’ Association President Megan Seline said the union is still developing a picketing strategy for the strike day, and hopes to get the details out to teachers by the middle of this week.

Seline pointed out that in addition to the ETSB teacher and support staff strike, the Fédération Autonome de l’Enseignment (FAE), acting independently, will exercise the second day of their three-day strike mandate on Monday, Oct. 26.

The FAE, which represents the teachers of the Val des Cerfs French school board, held its first strike day on Sept. 30.

Because the ETSB and Val des Cerfs share the Massey-Vanier High School and Sutton Elementary campuses, the ETSB cancelled school at those locations as a precaution, not wanting to put students in a position where they could be turned away from school unexpectedly.

Murray said the board has not had a strategy meeting yet, but said they will likely close Massey-Vanier and Sutton again on Oct. 26.
The ATA’s position regarding the FAE strike is for ETSB teachers not to cross their picket line.

It remains to be seen whether the FAE will follow the same protocol or continue with scheduled classes during the ETSB’s strike planned for Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The strike announcement comes hand in hand with news that the collective agreement negotiations are starting to progress.

“Things are finally moving forward,” Seline said.
“They (the Ministry) have a budget they’re going to have to adopt in the spring,” she said, adding that it needs to be deposited and discussed in detail before being passed.

“They’ve got to get us sorted out,” Seline said.

Some main points of contention, including the increase of the in-school work week from 32 to 35 hours, priori weighting for special needs students and increased student-to-teacher ratios for elementary levels 4, 5 and 6 are now off the negotiating table, according to Seline.

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