Thousands of teachers stage one-day walkout
Published Wednesday, September 30, 2015 12:22PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 30, 2015 8:56PM EDT
Tens of thousands of teachers walked off the job Wednesday for a one-day strike.
Members of the Federation autonome de l'enseignement (FAE), which represents teachers at French school boards, are holding the first of six days of protests scheduled for the fall.
Protests began before dawn at schools across Montreal, then teachers assembled at Victoria Square for a protest march which departed for Canada Place at noon.
"We are taking the streets today to tell the population and the parents that we are with them, and that their schools, teachers and their students, deserve more. We deserve better," said Nathalie Morel, vice-president of the FAE.
Teachers across Quebec are currently in contract negotiations with the province.
The Education Ministry is dealing with a 0.2 percent increase in funding, which is less than the rate of inflation. The Ministry is also demanding larger class sizes.
Its offer is a salary freeze for two years, and a one-percent salary increase in each of the following three years.
In exchange, the premier says teachers should have more say in how schools and school boards are operated.
"Teachers have to be given much more importance actually in the education sector. this is what we want to do. they have not alot of inflence now at the regional level and we want to make sure that they have an influence," Philippe Couillard said.
Teacher Gabriel Simard said the budget constraints are affecting his classes.
"Austerity is hitting hard in our classrooms, and we are here to make some noise and make us be heard," he said.
Ghislaine Boisleau denied that teachers are worried about their salaries, and said she and her colleagues only care about the welfare of students.
"The money, we never talk about that. It's not that," she said laughing. "The important thing, it's the way we educate our children. I'm going to stop working next year, and I'm here for the teachers who will teaching in a couple of years, and they need that help now."
French school boards are planning five more days of rotating strikes for the fall, with dates to be announced.
Teachers at English school boards have voted in favour of six days of strike action, with the first walkout to take place after the federal election.
On Thursday Oct. 1 many schools across Quebec will be taking part in a series of humain chains to protest government demands.
The French teachers have already announced two more days of strikes in October and teachers at English boards have voted to take strike action.Talks between the teachers and government continue Thursday and for two days next week