No settlement … yet
As you probably know from news reports, our negotiations with the government
broke down on October 13. The one good consequence of the breakdown in talks
is that the “embargo” we have been under during the talks no longer applies, and QPAT is now able to provide you
with a fairly complete summary of what we have negotiated to date.
Our negotiations resumed in late August after the summer break. It was hoped that a settlement could be reached very quickly through intensive talks at a high level. As with our negotiations in June, the negotiating was limited to two people
per side at each of the two tables (French and English). As already mentioned,
the content of the talks was restricted, or under embargo, which is common for talks held at this kind of “high-level”
Unfortunately, despite hard work, lengthy meetings extending into the night
and through several weekends, no deal was reached at either the French or the English table.
On October 5, the negotiating teams met the Minister of Education in the hope that he would intervene to settle the
remaining necessary points for the union side, and arrive at a settlement. Even
this attempt failed to produce the required flexibility by government negotiators to bring about a deal. In frustration at this failure, and with no flexibility left on the remaining points outstanding, the union
side left the table on October 13th.
there has been quite a lot of media coverage of a story put out by the Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA) alleging
that there is an agreement that was reached at the “English” table, but that QPAT representatives were refusing
to sign it out of loyalty to our colleagues in the Fédération des Syndicats de l’Enseignement (FSE).
is just not true. There is no settlement.
If we had one, and if it included a guarantee of our share of the new money ($90 million) being added to provide more
services for our special needs students, our colleagues in the FSE would be the first to encourage us to sign it.
But this deal, unfortunately, is a QESBA myth.
What is not a myth and what has been consistent throughout this round is that the QESBA
is determined to be different from the French table, whatever the consequences.
What about our number one priority, special needs students?
education has been in the forefront during this round of negotiations. Both union
and management sides labeled it “high priority”, although that did not mean we saw things in the same way from
the start. Despite differences in the initial proposals, there is agreement on
the need to improve the level of services to students with special needs.
At this point, we have agreed on a framework based on the following 10 principles:
· a substantial increase ($90 million) in available resources for services to special needs
students to be introduced over a 3-year period;
increase is in addition to all monies spent for special needs students for the base year (2005-2006);
· a streamlining of the current process for providing services for students and support for
teachers so that it is more on an “on demand” basis;
· a simpler and more efficient procedure
to obtain these services;
· an end of the need for ad hoc committee
meetings for students “at risk” and those with “learning disabilities”;
· a removal of coding and weighting for students “at risk” and those with “learning
· a continuation of coding and weighting
for purposes of oversized class compensation for students with “behavioral
· status quo provisions continue to
apply for “severe behavioral” and “handicapped” students;
· significant union participation
at the school board level in overseeing fair and equitable distribution of resources;
· significant teacher input at the school level in determining the organizational model and
the priorities for the resources available at school.
These principles have not yet been fully translated into workable clauses. This is a very important aspect of the negotiations still to be completed, particularly at the English
table. The wording at the French table, still not finished, covers much more
ground than has yet been covered at the English table. As you can understand,
the wording of the clauses is needed to solidify the gains made. Though there
has been a great deal of discussion, there are a number of items to clarify and to flesh out (see What
issues are still outstanding? in part three).