More Quebec education unions are preparing to vote on a strike mandate

A student peers through the window of a school bus as he arrives at the Bancroft Elementary School in Montreal, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Other unions in the Quebec education sector are preparing to vote on a strike mandate, this time at the FTQ.

The CSN, however, is not there yet.

The largest labour organization in education, the CSQ, kicked the ball off earlier this week by announcing that 73 per cent of its members voted in favour of a five-day strike mandate to be held at an opportune moment.

CSQ President Sonia Ethier insisted that her union's members preferred to conclude an agreement on the renewal of collective agreements, and not to exercise their strike mandate.

The CSQ represents the majority of elementary and secondary teachers, as well as others who teach at Quebec colleges, in addition to professionals and support staff at all levels (120,000 education members).

FTQ MANDATE

At the FTQ, which represents support employees, such as computer technicians, laboratory assistants, audio-visual and office workers (making up around 40 job titles), members will soon be consulted for a term of five strike days.

For example, the Union of Professional and Office Employees (SEPB), affiliated with the FTQ, will consult its 8,000 members on this mandate on Feb. 13 and 20.

At the Union of Service Employees UES-800, also affiliated with the FTQ, it is reported that these members, who work in English-language school service centres, seem less keen on the idea of a strike for the moment, but it will be up to them to decide in assembly, at the end of the day.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), also affiliated with the FTQ, also represents thousands of these support employees.

CSN CONSIDERING

The CSN, which represents 16,000 college-level teachers, as well as 41,000 elementary-secondary and college support employees, has not yet reached the stage of consulting its members on a possible strike mandate.

For now, the mandate is to "increase the means of pressure" and plan the strike, the union indicated Wednesday.

ROBERGE OPTIMISTIC

Negotiations for the renewal of collective agreements with Quebec have been going on for a year.

Minister of Education Jean-Francois Roberge said on Tuesday that "when negotiations have been going on for a year, it is normal for the tension to rise. Just before concluding, there is a kind of climax."

He also expressed his optimism, despite these strike votes.

"I am confident that the acceleration of the negotiations will allow us to reach an agreement, without the strike mandates being exercised," he said.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2021. 

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