Pontiac teachers strike: – significant improvements demanded

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Teachers strike in Campbell’s Bay.

François Carrier

MRC PONTIAC AND PONTIAC – On April 14, the last day of school before all Pontiac schools closed for in-school learning to curb the pandemic, teachers exercised their right to strike from midnight until 9:30 a.m. The Syndicat du personnel de l’enseignement des Hautes-Rivières (SPEHR) reiterated that the goal was to move discussions forward.
“Teachers are exasperated, exhausted and at the end of their rope, but they want to limit the impact on students, while putting pressure on school administrations. We hope the government hears the cries from the hearts of the teachers. They need a
clear demonstration that the government supports them and recognizes their work because they can no longer hold the school at arm’s length,” said SPEHR president Daniel Boisjoli.
The strike affected all schools of the Centre de services scolaires des Hauts-Bois-de-l’Outaouais (CSSHBO) and the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB). Picket lines were held throughout the region: Shawville, Campbell’s Bay, Mansfield, Fort-Coulonge, and L’Isle-Aux-Allumettes.
“Here in the Pontiac, everything went very well. We had great visibility and good participation of the population,” said Guy-Croteau, the person in charge of social security and secretary-treasurer of SPEHR.
The WQSB decided to transform the remainder of the day into virtual classes while the CSSHBO arranged the day to start two hours late.
More strike days in the future?
A three-day strike mandate was given to members of the union, meaning more strike days could occur in the future.
“There are still two and a half days left. I won’t tell you our strategy this morning, we’ll inform our members beforehand, but indeed, we still have the possibility of striking again,” explained Croteau.
SPEHR hammered home the fact that Québec teachers have been without a work contract for more than a year, and according to them, it’s the government that wanted to continue negotiations despite the context of the pandemic.
“All we want is to restart the negotiations that are currently going
in circles. We want Québec to join the Canadian average,” continued Croteau.
SPEHR is calling for significant improvements in the daily lives of
teachers: smaller class sizes and additional services, lighter workloads, better salaries and job security.