Strike possible this fall if challenges persist
By Jack Wilson
Local Journalism Initiative
Quebec teachers and the province aren’t likely to reach an agreement anytime soon, said Heidi Yetman, president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers, which represents English public school teachers in the province. “We are still very, very far apart.”
The Centrale des syndicats du Québec represents the union in negotiations. Under the common front agreement, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec negotiates in concert with three other union federations. Over 420,000 members of the various unions are represented in the 2023 round of negotiations.
Given the chasm between union and government stances, “the common front unions warned Mr. Legault last week that we may be looking for a strike mandate in the fall,” Yetman said.
Pay and class composition are key points of contention, she said. Yetman called the province’s offer of a nine per cent pay increase over five years “insufficient,” considering breakneck inflation in 2022 and 2023. “The government has not really budged on salary.”
With a recent union survey finding that between 20 and 40 per cent of students have individual education plans, “teachers are struggling without the resources to get their students succeeding,” Yetman said.
The union is asking for smaller class sizes where a higher proportion of students have special needs. “If you have a whole bunch of students with special needs, we should be reducing that class size so that the teacher can provide support for each of their students,” she said. The union is also seeking smaller kindergarten class sizes.