Day one of rotating strikes kicks off in West Island schools

PIERREFONDS–Working conditions are so bad that it’s driving people away from the job.

That’s what teachers said during Monday morning’s early protest in Pierrefonds.

Hundreds at the Marguerite Bourgeoys school board walked off the job.

They say they can no longer continue to work under current conditions.

“We have lots of teachers who drop out,” said Grade 4 teacher Nathan Whatley.

“We have a lot of teachers who can’t finish the school year because it’s too hard. We know we have a long summer but it’s not normal to lose employees during the year.”

The provincial government is proposing longer hours and class sizes, cuts to funding and a three percent salary increase.
The union has countered back with a 13.5 per cent salary increase.

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“In 20 years we haven’t even had something that’s matched the cost of living so teacher’s salaries have essentially gone down,” said Whatley.

“Even with these little one per cent or 0.5 per cent increases and there is a giant gap. It was created by the government and we’re hoping they step up and bridge it.”

It’s not just teachers who are walking out today. Health professionals were also on the picket lines.

Public sector workers have been without a contract since March 31.

Everyday, the anger grows.

“Frustration is building everyday it’s getting higher and higher,” said David Hamel a union representative.

“We’re getting support from the parents that we haven’t had at this level before so we’re willing to go forward and we’re going to continue our battle.”

Strikes are expected to continue across the province all throughout the week, including at many English school boards.

WATCH: Global’s Jaime Orchard sat down with Martin Coiteux as the week of protests kicked off Monday. The treasury board president tells Global News a solution is possible but not at any cost.

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