Despite first deal with one union group, 73,000 Quebec teachers still planning April 27 walkout
While Quebec teachers unionized with one group will soon be asked to vote on their agreement in principle, the members of another major union are still planning a walkout on April 27 over their lack of a deal.
The 49,000 teachers unionized with the Autonomous Federation of Teachers, or the FAE, will be called upon, "in the coming weeks," to vote on the agreement in principle, which took one more step on Friday when it was ratified by their federal negotiating council.
The tentative deal has gotten some praise so far, from both sides. Quebec Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge described it as a "giant leap for the recognition" of teachers.
It was also recommended "unanimously" to FAE members by the union intermediary body, emphasized union president Sylvain Mallette in a message to members
He assured that the agreement in principle contained "major advances," both in terms of salary and in terms of the recognition of teachers' professional autonomy.
Mallette pointed out that the agreement came about after 18 months of negotiations with Quebec.
CSQ STILL NEGOTIATING
Still, a much bigger group -- the 73,000 teachers represented by the Centrale des unions du Québec (CSQ) and its Federation of Teaching Unions (FSE) -- have not yet reached a deal.
Their negotiators still consider the offers so far to be insufficient, so talks continue.
In the meantime, the CSQ has already announced a second strike, on April 27, from 2:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.
This walkout will affect the 58 French-language school service centres and English-language school boards where the FSE-CSQ has members.
The FAE is also keeping a weapon in reserve in case its members reject the agreement in principle. It has been busy, for several weeks, consulting its members about getting a mandate for an indefinite general strike starting May 31.
A spokesperson said Monday that "we are maintaining the strike mandate in case the members reject the agreement."
QUEBEC LAUDS FIRST DEAL
On the province's side, both Roberge and Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel said they welcomed the agreement reached with the FAE.
After congratulating LeBel for negotiating the deal, the Minister described it as "a giant step forward for the recognition of the teaching profession. It will be beneficial for all students. Well done!"
LeBel said she was "proud of this agreement" and said it confirmed that "education is one of the top priorities of our government."
"We value and recognize the professionalism of teachers and we are empowering ourselves to improve the educational success of students," LeBel said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2021.