2005 / Volume 8
The Liberal government has been in power for two years in Quebec. How are they doing? If
recent approval ratings are any indication – abysmally! They seem to be stumbling from crisis to crisis. Their accomplishments
are mostly of the “backtracking” and “putting out brushfires” variety. Their failures are worse.
They promised that education would be a priority. How have they done so far? Let’s
look at the facts.
The central table has neither met nor received any offers. This means no salary offers have
been made. In fact, there have been no monetary offers at all, except for the
12% over six years hinted at previously. Remember that this 12% was meant to include ALL monetary items. Salary increases,
pension improvements and the salary equity settlement would ALL be shoehorned into this 12%!
At the sectorial tables, meetings have been held regularly. The employer group has introduced
a new strategy. We are presented with three or four “hypotheses” for each item of contention and told to choose
one. In every case, these “hypotheses” represent a serious erosion of our hard-won existing contractual rights.
If no “hypothesis” is chosen by the union side, we are warned that the employer group will arbitrarily chose one
such “hypothesis”. This is then deposited as text and is, at that point, “set in concrete”.
Here is an example: the 50 km rule on relocation of teachers on availability. In the employer’s
version of reality, this restriction will cease to exist in a teacher’s second year of availability and result in transfers
far beyond the existing limits. Also, a teacher on availability will face compulsory retraining at the whim of the school
Current working conditions will be further eroded by changes to clauses on remuneration
for substitute teachers and new rules for deducting salary in cases of absences of less than one day. Substitutes, part-time
teachers and hourly paid teachers will require a full 200 days worth of service in order to accrue a year of experience. This
is a dramatic setback from the current contract.
We have been consistently told that the employer seeks increased flexibility in order to
empower the teachers. Yet, in every case where text has been presented, we face erosion of existing working conditions and
rights. We shudder to think of what “offers” might be lurking in the contentious sections of the contract dealing
with special needs students.