Montreal teachers take to the streets over education cuts

Above Watch: Westmount and Lester B. Pearson School Board teachers were protesting against Quebec government cuts to public education. As Tim Sargeant reports, the teachers’ union is also in negotiating a new contract.

POINTE-CLAIRE – Hundreds of teachers from the Lester B. Pearson School Board pounded the pavement Friday afternoon. They’re protesting government plans to reform public education.

The teachers walked with signs and blow horns from the Fairview shopping centre to the corner of Brunswick Boulevard and St-Jean.

Contract talks between the unionized teachers and the government expired in March and there are no signs of a new deal being reached.

Teachers say the government is trying to impose new conditions the union considers unfair. Among them, more work hours for the same pay; a cut in resources for students with special needs; and increasing class sizes.

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“It will mean less time for my home family because I will have to take on stuff at home. And I don’t think that’s a fair thing to ask of someone to have to take their work home,” said Angela Davison, a grade four teacher at Forest Hill Senior Elementary in St-Lazare.

The union says both sides are also far apart on other outstanding issues including pay raises and pension fund contributions.

No strike actions are being planned yet but union leaders say informal discussions are being held on that possibility for next year.

“They’re a bunch of bullies, being a big bear and not moving,” John Donnelly, president of the Pearsons Teachers Union said in reference to the government.

No new discussions between the government and union are planned.

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