Quebec Teachers Hold One-Day Strike

Attempts to Secure a NegotiatedCollective Agreement

Quebec teachers, 73,000 members of the Federation of Education Unions and of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers, affiliated with the Quebec Labour Congress (CSQ) held an overnight strike that began at midnight and ended at 9:30 am on April 14. Lively demonstrations were held in the early morning outside many schools throughout the province. The CSQ has announced that the next strike action will be on April 27, lasting several hours.

Teachers demands include reduced class sizes, support for students with special needs, adequate funding for classrooms, equitable access to distance teaching, learning and technology, re-evaluation of  testing and assessments, that the safety of all be ensured in the context of COVID-19 and beyond, and solidarity with all frontline workers, to name a few.

In response to the strike action, the school service centres (formerly French School Boards) and English Montreal School Board filed an application to the Administrative Labour Tribunal (TAT) challenging the legality of the April 14 strike, alleging it was abusive. They withdrew their application the day before the strike and announced that teachers must be present in schools at 9:31 am to conduct online learning. Parents were informed the day before the strike that online learning would be administered.

Confusion among parents as to how to support the teachers was evident. It was not clear if the abrupt switch to online learning was an initiative by teachers to reduce the impact on a lost day of learning or a pressure tactic by the school boards against the strike action. Many were discussing and circulating articles on the morning of the strike that stated that the online learning program was an anti-strike initiative put in place at the last minute by school boards. Some parents decided not to have their child attend the online learning program to support the teachers.

The last minute shenanigans of the school boards is unacceptable. They knew for two weeks that the strike was planned but they demanded teachers be ready to give classes online at a moment's notice. Online learning is a tool to combat the pandemic, not strike actions. The pandemic is making it even more difficult for information to be transmitted. Mechanisms to support the teachers, access information and take action while respecting safety guidelines is key.

A petition is being circulated called We Are Drawing the Line to Redefine Education. Click here to sign and share.

The teachers are waging a crucial battle for the quality and integrity of public education. All out to support this fight!

(Photos: CSQ)

This article was published in

April 19, 2021 - No. 30

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