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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Unlimited teachers strike‘in our back pocket’

Steven Le Sueur said it was “an easy decision” to reject the Quebec government’s latest offer, which would have seen teachers, nurses and public sector workers in the province get a 12.7 per cent raise over the next five years. 

The head of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) told the Low Down that the offer was rejected immediately because it’s not retroactive to 2022. 

“For cost of living, you look back a year,” said Le Sueur. “And they’re leaving [2022] out like it didn’t happen. It should have been 18 or 18.1 per cent, if we are looking at all the cost of living.”

Le Sueur confirmed that the demand from the Common Front union, which includes 420,000 teachers, social and health workers and public sector employees, is a 21 per cent increase over three years and said the latest offer “isn’t cutting it.”

Despite the low offer, Le Sueur said he is “optimistic” about negotiations, especially since there are new players at the table, including the French union, The Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement (FSE), which represents 95,000 French teachers under 34 separate unions. 

 “I am hopeful, very optimistic. But you have to be realistic just the same,” said Le Sueur. “But yeah, we’re at a new table. It’s a combined table with the FSE and QPAT, and there are new players from the Treasury Board. And I think the real negotiations started as of [Dec. 7].” 

Wakefield teacher and union rep Shannon Langlois was out on the picket line Dec. 8, as teachers with QPAT have launched a seven-day strike between Dec. 8 and 14. Langlois told the Low Down that, although parents are being impacted by the intermittent strikes, teachers are receiving a lot of support from passersby. 

“I feel like every person I talked to, although definitely the parents are impacted because it’s really disruptive, but I think they still support us,” said Langlois, as she waved a green Common Front union flag that read, “With one voice.” 

“And all the parent–teacher meetings are very encouraging,” she continued. “They understand what the conditions are and what we’re trying to fight for.” Langlois said that the latest offer doesn’t cover inflation, which has been predicted to raise by 17.7 per cent over the next five years, according to Quebec financial institution Desjardins. 

“So it’s still a really low offer for all of the public service workers in our province, who are among the lowest paid in the country, I think,” added Langlois. She’s not wrong. According to Stats Canada data from October, Quebec teachers are, in fact, the lowest paid in the country. The base salary for a primary teacher in Quebec is $52,227. By comparison, Ontario teachers are paid $55,782. But where Quebec really lags is in salary increases. The Stats Canada data also reveals that, in Ontario, teachers with 10 years of experience get $102,952, compared to just $70,197 here.

Teacher’s salaries in Quebec top out at $88,652. 

Le Sueur added that QPAT has an unlimited strike for January “in our back pocket,” but hopes an agreement is reached before that. 

Union reps with the region’s French union, The Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE), did not return the Low Down’s calls by press time. 


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