Public Sector strikes throughout the townships

By Gordon Lambie
Public Sector strikes throughout the townships

It was hard to go two blocks in Sherbrooke on Wednesday morning without running into striking public Sector workers. They stood, marched, and chanted outside of hospitals, CLSCs, Schools, Daycares and Colleges, all decrying stalled contract negotiations with a Provincial government that has committed to taking a hard road of unpopular cuts across all sectors over the course of its mandate. The strike day, the first for the Eastern Townships region, came as a part of a rolling strike taking place across the province over the course of this week.

Julie Dubois, speaking on behalf of the Townships Regional Union of Support Staff (TRUSS) said that she was very happy with the turnout at schools all across the Eastern Townships School Board.

“When you have that many people out in the streets giving your message, you can’t pretend you didn’t notice,” Dubois said, expressing a hope that the strike day will help make the position of the common front clear to the Government.

Given that the groups striking come from a wide range of different public sector backgrounds, the issues at hand in this strike are quite varied depending on who one talks to. The group with the greatest presence in Wednesday’s demonstrations, however, was undeniably the roughly 6000 workers of the education sector.

“We don’t want to be doing this,” said one teacher involved in the noontime public demonstration outside the Carrefour de L’Estrie mall in Sherbrooke, arguing that none of those who went on strike did so lightly. “Nobody wants this, but it’s what things have come to.”

The position of the teachers unions has been focused mainly on working conditions, particularly in relation to proposed class size increases and cuts to resources for students with special needs.

Representatives of the health sector, meanwhile, sent out a message preceding the strike day indicating that while the law on striking requires that 60 to 90% of healthcare services be maintained, union representatives in the Eastern Townships committed to services being maintained at 90% in all sectors and at 100% in intensive care and emergency. For the most part, employees who could be seen picketing outside of healthcare installations throughout the day were administrative assistants and technicians.

All the groups involved in Wednesdays strike underlined the message that their goal is to encourage positive and constructive negotiation processes going forward, not to cause disruption. Further strike action has been tentatively planned for the second week of November and the first week of December, should those dates prove necessary.

The “rolling strike” makes its way to Montreal today.

See some of the demonstrations that took place in The Record’s photo album:

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