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Quebec teachers' union votes for an unlimited general strike mandate

Backpacks, jackets and shoes belonging to students are seen outside an elementary school classroom in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Backpacks, jackets and shoes belonging to students are seen outside an elementary school classroom in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

All the unions in the independent teachers federation (FAE), an independent grouping of teachers' unions, have now voted in favour of a mandate for an unlimited general strike.

The FAE comprises nine unions representing 65,500 primary and secondary school teachers, including large unions such as the Alliance des professeurs de Montréal and the Syndicat de l'enseignement de la région de Québec.

Votes in favour of unlimited strike action are 'above 90 per cent in the vast majority' of the nine unions, Mélanie Hubert, president of the union federation, said in an interview.

The last meeting was held on Tuesday evening.


The FEA is not part of the Common Front; it is standing apart from the Quebec government in the current negotiations on collective agreements.

In addition, the mandate for an unlimited general strike sought by FAE members does not provide for a first stage, such as strike days or blocks of strike days, unlike the mandate sought by the four labour organizations that form the Common Front.

There will be no piecemeal, one-day or block strikes.

"There will be a direct unlimited general strike. For the members, it was logical to say, 'This is the ultimate means, and if we get there, it will be serious,'" said Hubert. "The members are determined to improve their working conditions. There was no intention, this time, to go for mixed measures. They told us 'we'll be out for good if we go out.'"

The FAE has not yet decided when it will exercise its strike mandate.

The matter will be discussed at a meeting in the near future.

Asked whether the FAE could coordinate its strike with a possible walkout by the Common Front -- which is currently consulting its members until mid-October -- Hubert replied that there was "no idea at the moment of coordinating, but there is no idea either of distinguishing ourselves at all costs" from the Common Front. Both the Common Front and the FAE will decide on their own strategy, according to the interests of their members, she explained.


The FAE has already started to take certain pressure tactics, such as boycotting meetings with management and boycotting certain training courses. Its pressure tactics also include extracurricular activities.

"At the moment, if the organization of student activities is not already part of our job, the teachers have decided not to add to their work by organizing student activities on the side, so to speak," said Hubert. "In many areas, since the start of the school year, there have been outings to cultural events or sports tournaments or trips... it's more or less the kind of activity that teachers have decided not to organize."

In addition to Montreal and Quebec City, the seven other FAE unions are the Syndicat de l'enseignement de l'Ouest de Montréal, the Syndicat de l'enseignement de la Pointe-de-l'île, the Syndicat de l'enseignement de la région de Laval, the Syndicat de l'enseignement des Basses-Laurentides, the Syndicat de l'Outaouais and the Syndicat de l'Haute-Yamaska. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 27, 2023. Top Stories

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