December 2005 / Volume
Winter of Our Discontent
As 2005 draws to a close, the struggle for a negotiated
settlement continues. We remain hopeful that a negotiated settlement can be reached
but realize that we face an adversary unlike any we have faced in the past.
Talks have resumed at both the English and French
tables since the middle of November. There is no progress to report. In fact, at the English table, the employer has reverted, in some instances, to its initial position despite
previous verbal agreements. The outstanding issues remain: mobility of teachers
on availability (50 km), class sizes, contracts for adult and vocational education teachers and especially the need for a
clear and effective set of conditions to resolve the special needs problems in our schools.
At the Central Table, where monetary issues for the
entire civil service are decided, only short unproductive meetings have been held. The
government, which according to its own research underpays public sector employees by 15.5% compared to the private sector,
still clings to its insulting salary offer of 8% over six years and nine months.
Despite public opinion polls to the contrary, the
government continues to hint that a decreed settlement may be in the offing. Monique
Jérôme-Forget seems to have softened her original stance, in which she suggested a decree might come as early as December
15 but still has not ruled out a decree entirely.
This is the background against which public service
workers in Quebec
have begun to mobilize. All ten teacher unions within the QPAT family have voted
for a mandate for three days of rotating strikes. The overwhelming majority of
our colleagues in the FSE have done the same.
The schedule for strikes in the month of December
for QPAT affiliated teachers is the following:
December 6 ESTA, LNSETA
December 8 ATA
December 13 CVTA, LTU, MTA, PTU, RTU
December 14 CQTA
We hope that our pressure tactics will provide sufficient leverage to force the government to recognize
the need for a negotiated settlement. A decreed settlement will leave a bitter
taste in the mouths of teachers and other public service employees for years to come.