MONTREAL — Over 5,000 teachers from all over Quebec marched down Grande Allee in Quebec City June 10. They rallied in front of the National Assembly, demanding better working conditions and higher pay to keep up with inflation. The government is offering only a 9% wage increase spread out over five years.
“Reduce the workload before we quit!” read the banner at the front of the march. Members of the FSE-CSQ, the largest teachers union in Quebec, are demanding the government reduce class sizes and reorganize them to give the necessary attention to students with special needs. “The workload is getting more and more demanding and the teachers are being left alone trying to hold up to the demands,” Josee Scalabrini, president of the FSE, told the crowd.
These conditions have led to a teacher shortage in Quebec. Some 50% of new teachers quit before their fifth year.
“Give teachers what they need: professional autonomy, resources to help students, a decent workload, a salary increase that matches inflation and you will not have a shortage of teachers,” said Heidi Yetman, president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers, which represents the English school teachers. “We have a shortage of good working conditions.”
All along the march people on the sidewalk applauded and cheered, “Hooray for teachers.” We could feel the solidarity.
Unions representing all Quebec government employees, including teachers, whose union contracts have lapsed are planning a Sept. 23 rally in Montreal.
Josette Hurtubise is a member of FSE-CSQ.