September 15, 2015 3:27 pm
Updated: September 15, 2015 6:35 pm

Westmount High students protest budget cuts during lunch break

WATCH ABOVE: Students at Westmount high school used their lunch hour Tuesday to let the government know they aren't happy about budget cuts to public education. Global's Felicia Parrillo reports.

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MONTREAL – Lunch hour is usually a time when students are free from their teachers – a time when they get to chat with their friends, grab a bite to eat and talk.

But Westmount High School students did something a little different on Tuesday.

A group of about 40 students gathered in front of the school in support of their teachers, saying work-to-rule action is not allowing teachers to properly do their jobs.

READ MORE: #LiftTheBan: Student video asks Quebec government to reconsider budget cuts 

“Right now, we’re fighting the work-to-rule that’s going on across Quebec,” said Nilani Uthayakumar, a Grade 11 student.

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“They can only work their 32 hour contract – so no sports, no tutoring, all that is gone.”

Students who organized the protest said the pressure tactics are negatively affecting everyone.

“Not only is it affecting us as individuals and people who are currently at the school, it’s also affecting the future generations to come,” said student Sage Goodleaf.

READ MORE: Work-to-rule action forces Ballet Ouest de Montreal to cancel Nutcracker shows

Students weren’t the only ones protesting – teachers came out to join as well.

“I just had to come out here and tell them that this was incredibly moving for us,” said social science teacher, Robert Green.

“Our staff room window is just up there and they have come out here to support us, to support public education.”

Westmount High students were originally going to walk out of class at 10:30 a.m., but had to change their plans when their principal got wind of the protest.

“A lot of the teachers were blocking the way from us going out,” said Uthayakumar.

“They threatened for us to go back to class or else we could have suspended.”

Principal Michael Cristofaro said although students have the right to protest, they cannot leave during class time.

He said if they want to express an opinion on the protests, they are free to do so on their own time – during lunch or recess.

READ MORE: Parents, teachers protest provincial cuts to public education 

The students told Global News this won’t be their only action.

“We have a Facebook page of our group for Westmount,” said Uthayakumar.

“We’ll be communicating over there and work out a time and schedule on when to meet and when to do this.”

© 2015 Shaw Media

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