Quebec reaches partial deal with province's largest teachers union

The 95,000-member FSE represents 60 per cent of the province’s unionized teaching staff

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Two Quebec teachers unions say they’ve approved a “proposed settlement” with the Quebec government for the renewal of collective agreements.

The FSE-CSQ and the APEQ-QPAT say it is not an agreement in principle and they must consult with their members, but they’re endorsing the proposed sectorial agreement tabled by the provincial government Friday morning.

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“We had a mandate to make concrete improvements to the daily lives of teachers, based on our three priorities of class composition, workload reduction and remuneration. We were able to agree on a draft regulation because we are making progress on these three elements,” said FSE-CSQ president Josée Scalabrini and APEQ-QPAT president Steven Le Sueur in a press release issued Friday evening.

The proposed regulation will be presented to members by local unions in the coming weeks, following the holiday period, the FSE-CSQ announced on its Facebook page Friday evening.

“We are 50 per cent of the way there. Everything related to salary, insurance, parental leave, regional disparities, this has not been resolved. And that, we will have to wait until we have these results together. But we can say that we have taken a big step forward,” said Josée Scalabrini, president of the FSE-CSQ, in a video posted on Facebook.

The 95,000-member Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement (FSE) announced earlier on Friday it had reached a tentative agreement with the Legault government over non-monetary issues in its collective agreement.

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The apparent deal was reached after intense negotiations overnight, the union said, adding monetary issues were still being discussed at a separate negotiating table where the FSE is joined by the other members of the common front of public-sector unions.

The FSE had rejected the last government offer on Tuesday, describing it as a “smokescreen.” The Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE), which represents 66,000 teachers and is not a part of the common front, also rejected the proposal.

The FSE-CSQ then presented a sectoral counter-offer “with the aim of relaunching discussions in order to obtain an agreement before the holidays.”

The office of the Minister responsible for Government Administration and president of the Treasury Board Sonia LeBel also reported on the draft regulation on Friday, which also affects the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers, which represents members of the English school network.

News of the agreement came hours before a demonstration in support of the province’s striking teachers outside the Montreal offices of Premier François Legault.

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The teachers represented by the FAE have been on unlimited strike since Nov. 23. It said a negotiation blitz is coming.

“(Thursday), the management party invited us to a ‘blitz’, but in the discussion, we understood that they were still trying to restrict the subjects that will be at stake for the negotiation,” president Mélanie Hubert said in a video posted on Facebook late Friday morning.

The FAE says it is ready to engage in intensive negotiations, “but not under the conditions imposed.”

“We had 22 days of (unlimited general strike), and it is certainly not to let us dictate our conduct,” Hubert said.

The president of the FAE also affirmed it seems that the negotiations will “restart quite intensively in the coming hours.”

Hubert said the FAE intends to “evaluate the impact that this agreement (with the FSE) will have on (its) own negotiations.

“But that doesn’t change anything about our objectives and the demands we made.”

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