We can all agree: teachers should never have to use pressure tactics like strikes over a social issue as important as education.
In the same way that our government – which constantly says that education is its priority – should never propose a deal that has the effect of impoverishing its own workers when we take inflation into account.
If he had been in good faith, he should have proposed from the start of the negotiations a mechanism to link our wage increases to the cost of living. I am convinced that the strike mandates obtained by the different teaching unions would not have been endorsed with such overwhelming majorities if the CAQ had raised this idea.
But, we understand, the Legault government has lost the pulse of society by “proposing” its employees to impoverish themselves while promising to employ Quebecers who pay as if teachers were not taxpayers or voters. The thing is even more shocking a few months after a salary recovery of 30% of the salaries of the deputies. Faced with these inconsistencies, many of my colleagues who voted for the CAQ have decided that their next vote will be for another party, with the risk of further distressing Mr. Legault when he looks at the election polls.
In addition, in this period of staff shortage where even the Minister of Education, Mr. Drainville, expressed his dismay stating that the important thing was to have one adult per class, our government should have understood the importance of teachers in our society and realize that, every year, thousands of them leave the their profession or retire early because of their poor working conditions.
For a government that claims education is its priority, we remind you, we are either dealing with another inconsistency or a lie.
For the future of education
And since we are addressing the notion of lying, the CAQ government is also picking up on all the deviations it made from the truth during the pandemic by telling teachers that their schools were safe and that ventilation was adequate. We all know that Minister Roberge lied about this to his colleagues and the people of Quebec. We all know that the compliments given to teachers during the pandemic were just hot air, as today they do not translate into concrete recognition when we get to work.
At the dawn of my retirement, I chose to fight. For those around me. For those who follow me. For the students of today and tomorrow. The current negotiations are decisive for the future of the teaching profession and education in Quebec. We need the best people to educate our young people. To think that we will attract them at a discount is a big mistake and raises another inconsistency of the CAQ, which stated during the previous negotiations that everything must be done to attract election candidates in education.
They will criticize me that I am only interested in the salary. Thirty years of education have taught me two things about collective bargaining: wage is the only verifiable fact. The rest, that is to say that we will improve the working conditions of teachers by adding resources, is a show of government.
So, like thousands of my peers, I decided that I would actively make my anger and dissatisfaction known on the streets, in the newspapers, and wherever I could.
Luc Papineau, teacher