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Que. teachers' union to make counter-offer, indefinite strike continues

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FAE union heads say they've refused Quebec's latest contract offer and plan to offer their own terms to end the widespread teachers' strike which stretched into its seventh day Friday.

"On Tuesday evening, November 28, the FAE received a new offer from the government which it analyzed rigorously," read a French-language release from the teachers' union.

However, the union says the province's offer did not "make it possible to suspend the unlimited general strike." 

"So, this strike will continue on Monday," said union president Melanie Hubert during a Friday evening press conference in Montreal following two days of union meetings. 

"On the other hand, the FAE remains determined to find a satisfactory agreement," she said. "The time spent over the past two days has been devoted to working on a counter-offer which will be tabled as quickly as possible at the negotiating table."

She said the union wants to continue talks over the weekend to "take advantage of these two days where the students do not miss school, where teachers are not deprived of salary."

Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel took to social media to express her disappointment.

"We are aware of the impacts of the strike on the students, and we are obviously disappointed," wrote LeBel in French. "But, we are committed to signing agreements for the benefit of students and staff, so we will continue our efforts to get there as quickly as possible." She said negotiations will continue over the coming days. 

The announcement came on the heels of controversial remarks from Quebec Premier Francois Legault, who told reporters Friday that he has "a hard time living with the fact that our children aren't in school."

"What's happening now is bad for our children," said the premier. The union said Legault's words amount to "emotional blackmail."

"What's hurting public schools is the deterioration of the system which has been exacerbated since you've been in power," the union wrote in a social media post addressed to Legault.

The FAE, which stands for the Federation autonome de l'enseignement, represents 66,500 teachers at the primary and secondary levels. They've been on strike since Nov. 23, shutting around 800 schools across the province.

Quebec's remaining 95,000 teachers are members of the CSQ, which is part of the Common Front. 

The Common Front held its own four-day strike in November and has since announced seven more strike days, which are expected to run from Dec. 8 to 14.

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