‘We need a resolution’: Montreal parents join striking teachers on picket line

Click to play video: 'Quebec public sector strike: Parents join teachers on picket line in Montreal'
Quebec public sector strike: Parents join teachers on picket line in Montreal
In a sign of solidarity, parents and children joined striking teachers on the picket line in Montreal. It comes at a time when tensions at the bargaining table have given way to more constructive discussions. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines has more – Dec 12, 2023

After nearly three weeks of an indefinite strike for tens of thousands of teachers across Quebec, it was parents who took to the picket line Tuesday.

Dozens of parents stood alongside educators in Montreal’s west end in the morning, waving signs and chanting slogans as a display of support during contract negotiations.

Jennifer Zimmerman has showed up every day with her children in solidarity with striking staff. Teachers “work so hard to help kids” while facing mounting demands, she said.

“I think we need everyone to come together and see the urgency in the situation,” Zimmerman said. “We need a resolution. It has been three weeks and it has been too long.”

Vincent Hubert was also on the picket line, saying he understands parents like himself are facing the “burden to have the kids at home” but he supports educators.

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“We do feel like the teachers but I only have one at home at the moment. They have 20 or 30 kids on a daily basis. I feel for them,” Hubert said.

With overlapping walkouts by public sector workers, nearly one million children are not in school this week. Talks between unions and the Quebec government are underway, but no deal has been struck.

Parents joined teachers on the picket line in Montreal on Dec. 12, 2023. Brayden Jagger Haines/Global News

Some 66,000 teachers who are members of the Fédération Autonome de l’Enseignement (FAE) have been off the job since Nov. 23. The unlimited strike has closed around 800 public schools.

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The Front Commun — a “common front” of four unions representing 420,000 public sector workers in the education, social services and health sectors — is also on a week-long walkout that began last Friday. It is negotiating separately from the FAE.

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Last week, unions rejected the government’s latest proposal — which included a base offer pay increase to 12.7 per cent over a five-year period. They say it doesn’t keep pace with inflation.

Aside from salary, one of the main sticking points for the education sector is working conditions and class sizes. Alexis Fortier, a high school teacher in Quebec City, wants to give students more.

“We want to offer them the best opportunities possible to learn and be in an environment where they have the possibility to do so,” Fortier said.

Parents like Zimmerman agree. She says public schools need more investment to support both educators and students.

“We hear the stories when our kids come home from school every day,” she said. “The class sizes are large. The resources aren’t there to meet the needs of all our diverse children.”

The FAE took to social media late Monday to say there was some progress in discussions with the province. Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel said talks are currently in a crucial phase, with a possible agreement in sight.

— with files from Global’s Franca Mignacca and The Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'No end in sight for Quebec teachers strike'
No end in sight for Quebec teachers strike

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