March 2005 / Volume 6
The cornerstone of our teacher union movement is and always has been our involvement, our commitment and our solidarity.
The bulk of the working conditions we presently enjoy are the results of our exemplary mobilisations over a number
of rounds of negotiations. The strikes of 1971, 1976, 1979, 1983 and 1998 may
be long gone, but their results are with us today in our collective agreements.
In this difficult process of give and take, we have won many victories… and suffered some losses. In all cases, it is our collective determination and our concerted work actions that produced the gains
and limited the damage.
Negotiations are never easy. The employer will always test our ability
to mobilise. And much to their chagrin, we will always rise to the challenge.
Not doing so would give a green light to the government to proceed with its cutbacks and clawbacks. We are at just such a point now. If we were to allow the employer
position to prevail:
Our salaries would fall behind the cost of living
for each of the past two and the next four years.
The provisions for special needs students would deteriorate.
Workload pressure could be exerted on teachers in
each school by school administrators to develop a school organisation that does not respect contract provisions for class
size and teaching time.
The professional obligations of all teachers would
be substantively increased.
The de-indexation of our pension plans would continue
to impoverish teachers who taught between 1983-2000.
Job security would be threatened by the disappearance
of the 50 km clause that limits distance beyond which a teacher can be transferred for any reason. Teachers in Montréal could end up in the Gaspé… and vice versa.
Adult and vocational teachers would lose the little
protection that recall lists now provide.
Salary insurance (the first two years of disability)
would have more restricted accessibility.
The employer’s objective is clear – increased management rights and decreased funding in the education
Our demand, on the other hand, is based on the present reality of our schools.
Providing adequate working conditions for teachers and appropriate quality services for students requires MORE, not
Public education is our future. Mr. Charest, invest now!
Our action plan has been very successful so far. Now is the time for
stronger action. In the very near future, you will be called upon by your local
union to vote on a mandate for two days of strike – one on a rotating basis in April and the other to be exercised on
a single day in May – in conjunction with our Cartel partners.
The very announcement that teacher unions have this mandate will be an unequivocal message of teacher determination. The walkout threat will show the government that we are strong, willing to stand
together in solidarity and unshakable in our demand for what is right for our schools, our students and our profession.
When your local union calls on you to vote on this issue, remember what is at stake, and vote “YES!”