As a provincewide public sector strike forces the closure of schools in Quebec, parents like Morgan Gregory are finding alternative ways to keep their children engaged and occupied. Gregory, a self-employed single mother of two from Montreal’s South Shore, has been preparing meals and planning activities to make the most of the time her daughters will be home from school. She intends to work during the early mornings and evenings, and also help other parents who are teachers by taking care of their children and engaging in educative activities.
The strike, organized by the “common front,” a group of four major unions representing around 420,000 public sector workers, will last from Tuesday to Thursday. However, another union called the Federation Autonome de l’Enseignement (FAE) will continue striking indefinitely as of Thursday, resulting in the closure of several school boards across Quebec, including Montreal’s largest French-language school district.
The demands of the striking workers include higher wages and better classroom support aides for teachers, as well as improved working conditions and salaries for various other public sector professionals, including nurses and healthcare workers. The unions have rejected Quebec’s latest contract offer, which includes a 10.3% salary increase over five years and a one-time payment of $1,000 to each worker. The unions have not publicly presented a counter-proposal, but in the past, they have called for a three-year contract with annual salary increases tied to the inflation rate.
While the strikes are causing disruptions for parents and students, Education Minister Bernard Drainville has emphasized that this should not be seen as a vacation and hopes schools will provide some educational materials for students during this time. However, education unions have advised their members not to assign any homework to students during the strike, underscoring the impact they hope to make.
Parents like Doug Bentley, who has two children in different levels of schooling, acknowledge the challenges but understand the importance of the strike for teachers and the overall improvement of education. Bentley hopes for a swift resolution to the strike, as he believes uninterrupted classroom time will be crucial for students to catch up from the learning time lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: How long will the Quebec public sector strike last?
A: The strike organized by the “common front” will last from Tuesday to Thursday, but another union called FAE will continue striking indefinitely as of Thursday.
Q: What are the demands of the striking workers?
A: The workers are demanding higher wages, better classroom support aides for teachers, improved working conditions, and salary increases tied to the inflation rate for various other public sector professionals.
Q: Has Quebec offered any contract to the unions?
A: Yes, Quebec has offered a 10.3% salary increase over five years and a one-time payment of $1,000 to each worker, but the unions have rejected this offer.
Q: Are students expected to receive homework during the strike?
A: Education unions have advised their members not to assign any homework to students during the strike.
Q: Why do parents support the strike despite the challenges it poses?
A: Parents understand the importance of the strike for teachers and the overall improvement of education, but they hope for a swift resolution to ensure uninterrupted classroom time for their children.