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Valley teachers take action, plan strike

The honking of passing cars and buses filled the air as teaching staff waved flags and signs on the hill in front of CVR on March 31. (PHOTOS Chantal Hortop)

 

Teachers in the Valley raised their voices on Wednesday, March 31, carrying out “visibility actions” to draw attention to the fact that teachers in Québec had been without a collective agreement for one year as of that date. Noisemakers hooted and clanged, and flags waved at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School as teaching staff gathered on the hill in front of the school after the last bell, cheered on by their students and by honks from passing cars and school buses.

Nick Ross, president of the Chateauguay Valley Teachers’ Association (CVTA), says that current working conditions and a lack of movement on the collective agreement by the provincial government add “even more uncertainty” to a situation that is “already extremely stressful.”

The demands that have been brought to the table by the teachers include more support for students with special needs, and what Ross calls “a more reasonable workload that does not see approximately 25 per cent of the new teachers leaving the profession within the first five years.” He explains that of the substantial amount of preparatory work teachers do outside the classroom, the majority is unpaid. Now, the government intends to cut the remaining amount of pay received for this work.

Teachers in the Chateauguay Valley have been raising awareness of their lack of collective agreement by wearing these black t-shirts to school once a week; gathering en masse on March 31 brought their plight further into the public eye.

Another important request is that Québec teachers, who are currently the lowest paid in Canada, be remunerated fairly. Ross says, “the government has largely ignored the demands deposited at the negotiating table since October 2019.” This demonstration, and upcoming actions by teaching professionals, will draw public attention to the fact that teachers’ salaries are well below the national average for their profession.

The lack of progress with negotiations has prompted the teachers to plan further action in the weeks ahead, including an “innovative strike” scheduled for April 14. The “innovation” has to do with the strike’s unusual timeframe: it will be carried out from midnight to 9:30 am. “The withholding of labour for a short part of the day, at the beginning of the day, allows for the CVTA members to strike legally for a part of their workday, but also allows the school board to adjust accordingly so that there is minimal disruption of this legal strike action on the teaching and learning of [New Frontiers School Board] students,” says Ross. He explains that although there are “no concrete plans” yet for further strike action, “CVTA members will still have four more days of strike mandate available to use when and if necessary in the future.”

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1 Comment

Joël 2021-04-03 at 09:54

Teachers MUST be compensated appropriately to their roll in society. The importance of teachers does not match their pay!

Thanks for sharing Chantal!

Reply

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