Geneviève Royer, High School Remedial Teacher

In Quebec, with the pandemic, we face even greater needs in the education system to ensure the health and safety of students and staff and also to create a feeling of safety and confidence among students who face even greater learning difficulties and delays in the chaotic situation that exists in education. We must intervene on the spot, collectively, and not as individuals in front of management, to correct the problems that arise. We must act more quickly than before, on a daily basis. More than ever, the demands we have been making for years, such as reducing class sizes and improving services for students with difficulties, are necessary to stabilize the situation, but they are still being ignored.

We have to do all of this in the midst of negotiations for the renewal of our collective agreements. We face continued state restructuring of the education system to serve private interests, and this restructuring deprives teachers of a voice in determining working conditions. With the pandemic, governance by decree has been strengthened. At the tables, negotiators representing the government still tell us that they have no mandate to negotiate on the basis of our demands, and this after 67 negotiation meetings.

The teachers are discussing our situation passionately at the moment because we can see that we need to re-examine and re-think the traditional forms of the state-led bargaining, such as conciliation-mediation, followed by reports, then strike mandate votes, and after that strike notices, etc. The pandemic itself is forcing us to re-think these things. We are discussing how to hold discussions and actions among the public to mobilize public opinion and hold the government accountable for its rejection of our demands, when we are in the best position to know what arrangements are needed to deal with the crisis in education, a crisis that is aggravated by the pandemic. Our voice must become influential in decision-making on matters that concern us and that are important to the education system and the well-being and future of youth.

Women make up 76 per cent of the teaching staff in primary and secondary schools, and they are most active in all aspects of the struggle, including the current discussion on how to move forward under the conditions of the public health crisis.

This article was published in

March 8, 2021 - No. 14

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