More strike days looming for school staff

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Added: Wed, 06/02/2021 - 4:14pm
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School support staff members demonstrated May 26 and 27, picketing in Campbell’s Bay.

François Carrier

MRC PONTIAC – Strikes and virtual school days have multiplied in the last few days in Pontiac schools and it may not be over yet. On May 19, members of the Syndicat du personnel professionnel du milieu scolaire de l'Outaouais (SPPO) held a strike. A few days later, on May 26 and 27, support staff demonstrated, holding a picket line in front of Francœur restaurant in Mansfield. The Centre de services scolaires des Hauts-Bois-de-l'Outaouais (CSSHBO) and the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) decided to organize virtual classes, cancel transportation and daycare services.
In both cases, the unions are asking for better wages and improvements related to recruitment and working conditions. The SPPO expressed deep dissatisfaction with the unfairness of negotiations to renew collective agreements and announced another strike day on Wednesday, June 9.
“For this third strike, the professionals (psychologists, speech therapists, etc.) continue to demand better salaries for all the actors in the school network who suffer from a significant delay compared to their counterparts in other public and private sectors, because they are mostly women,” said the SPPO.
For support staff, Alfonso Ibarra Ramirez, president of the Conseil central des syndicats nationaux de l'Outaouais (CCSNOCSN), said his members had no choice; the Legault government is putting concrete before people.
“On May 2, in trying to justify his meagre 5% wage increase over three years, Mr. Legault replayed the same line that comes up at every negotiation: that Québec does not have the capacity to pay more for its public services. Two weeks later, on May 17, he announced with great fanfare a $10 billion investment to dig a tunnel between Québec City and Lévis. This is the ultimate demonstration that managing public finances is a matter of choice. And right now, by refusing to recognize the crying needs of the education network, the government is depriving Quebecers of the services to which they are entitled,” declared Ibarra Ramirez.
The Syndicat du personnel de l'enseignement des Hautes-Rivières FSE-CSQ (SPEHR) has also confirmed a strike will take place on June 8 from 2:45 p.m.
to 5:00 p.m. SPEHR mentioned it should help them obtain a settlement by the end of the school year.