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Seventy-five teachers join picket line

Strike seeks to improve working conditions for teachers and learning conditions for students

Pierre Cyr
Mansfield Dec. 11, 2023
The latest protest by striking Pontiac teachers took place in Mansfield on Monday morning.
Members of the Syndicat du personnel professionnel du milieu scolaire de l’Outaouais (SPPMSO) from the Centre de service scolaire des Hauts-Bois-de-l’Outaouais (CSSHBO) territory assembled in front of Bower’s Restaurant to register their demands for better classroom conditions and a salary that keeps pace with inflation.
SPPMSO represents roughly 300 teachers in the Outaouais region, provincial public servants who have joined the Common Front strike for the week up to Dec. 14, 2023.
Guy Croteau, a high school teacher at École secondaire Sieur du Coulonge (ESSC), and a union representative, was proud of the public’s support for the school staff’s demands.
“I have been involved in strikes in the past and I really see that the population is supportive of our cause this time around,” Croteau told THE EQUITY at the Monday morning protest.
According to Croteau, class composition is a major issue. He says the union’s demands to find additional staff to help reduce the workload on teaching staff are entirely feasible.
The question of teachers’ pay is also at the heart of the dispute.
“We don’t want to impoverish ourselves,” said Croteau.
In his opinion, the government’s offer of a 12.7 per cent increase over five years is insufficient. Inflation forecasts for the next 5 years are 18.7 per cent so, according to Croteau, this should be the government’s minimum offer for a five-year contract.
Russell Dannis, a grade six teacher in Chapeau, and interim union representative from the Western Quebec Teachers Association, said the goal of this strike is to improve the working conditions of teachers as well as the learning conditions of the students.
Dannis is also in disagreement with the government’s intentions to modify the pension plans of teachers, a move he says is designed to influence teachers to retire later in order to avoid a smaller pension. Dannis hopes this week’s strike will put pressure on the government and accelerate the negotiations.
Around 100,000 teachers will be on strike this week to join the 66,000 members of the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE) who have been on unlimited strike since Nov. 26.
Croteau confirmed that the teachers have no strike fund to compensate for their absence from work.
The Common Front includes some 420,000 Quebec government employees looking for a new working contract.

Seventy-five teachers and education professionals joined the Common Front protest along Hwy 148 in front of Bowers Restaurant in Mansfield on Monday.

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