On the Picket Line

Quebec teachers strike again for better pay, conditions

By Josette Hurtubise
May 10, 2021

CHAMBLY, Quebec — Some 73,000 primary and secondary school teachers across Quebec, who have been without a contract for over a year, are planning to walk out for the second time in two weeks to increase the pressure on Premier François Legault to negotiate. The one-day strike is set for April 27, from 2:45 to 5 p.m.

Government officials says teachers must accept their terms, and worse conditions, blaming the economic effects of the pandemic. They are offering a 5% wage increase over three years. We’re demanding an 8% increase now, to meet the Canadian average salary for teachers, and 3% more every year for the next three years.

Spirits were high when we walked out the first time April 14 at the Madeleine-Brousseau school here, where I’ve been a third grade teacher for five years. Parents came by to encourage us to continue fighting, saying we deserve better. Many drivers passing by honked in solidarity.

“We are also striking to have smaller class sizes and for more financing to help students with special needs,” fellow teacher Émilie Lefrançois told the Militant on the picket line at the Gerard-Filion school in Longueuil, just south of Montreal.

The strike started just after midnight and the teachers began picketing at 7 a.m., then went back in for classes at 9:31 a.m. We wanted to make our point but didn’t want students to miss too many school hours because the pandemic has deprived them of so many over the last year.

The strike affected 58 school boards and school administrative service centers in Quebec organized by our unions, Federation of Education Unions (CSQ) and Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT). School officials tried to get the Quebec Superior Court to issue an injunction banning the strike, but failed.

Last January teachers voted in favor of five days of strikes during the spring. The 49,000 teachers centered in Montreal, who are members of the FAE (Federation autonome de l’enseignement), voted to go on an unlimited strike beginning May 31 if no agreement is reached.