by Marie Fester
On Friday, September 2nd the results of SUJAC’s referendum were published. The results were tight but 55.5% voted “I want SUJAC to endorse the teachers’ decision to strike”. Approximately 70% of day students (4843/6800) voted. With the semester over 40% complete many students are asking how the strike will affect them. Students asked and we answered, here are some of the questions that have been bothering students and their answers.
First off, the semester is not cancelled and even if all 6 days of strike are used you will not have to repeat your semester and you will not receive an automatic fail. Currently, the only decisions that are going to affect students are the following: the JAC open house has been cancelled until further notice because teachers are boycotting it, they will also be boycotting the mid-semester assessment and any committees on which they have representation. Any strike days will be announced seven days in advance. We can expect to know in mid to end of October when the days will be.
On strike days the college will be closed. Teachers “are currently doing their best to make adjustments to their course plans to mitigate any potential impact”, according to Roy Fu, president of JACFA.
A strike is disruptive to students and teachers, they would not choose to create a mandate for one unless they felt they had little other choice as far as bargaining tactics go. CEGEP education is not based on a minimum amount of classroom hours, but rather on fulfilling competencies. This leaves teachers with more flexibility as far as course content goes.
It is important to bear in mind that a strike now will protect the teaching profession for years to come. Currently, public sector salaries are 7.6% lower than other jobs in the province and have risen less than inflation since the early 1990s, resulting in 10% less purchasing power. This combined with 35% of jobs not being permanent are suspected to affect retention rates of public sector employees including CEGEP professors. The common front is not negotiating pension at this time. (frontcommun.org)
While some believe that teachers have cushy jobs with long summer breaks, class sizes have increased from 27 to over 42 students since the college opened in 1970. This increase has coincided with an increase in special needs students as well as growing technological demands. All three of these have upped the difficulty of the teaching profession and make it even more important that teachers are qualified and care about their job, however the government continues to implement budget cuts.
Currently, the Quebec government is cutting $105 million dollars from CEGEPs in order to pay off the debt. According to JACFA rep Mark McGuire, this is being done “without consulting the public or carefully studying the impact of these cuts.”
On October 3rd the common front held a demonstration at Parc Mont-Royal. According to the Montreal Gazette, tens of thousands of people attended. John Abbott had a demonstration on the morning of Monday the 5th of October in front of the school. The support for the common front has not gone unnoticed in Quebec City, Premier Couillard has said he wants to negotiate with the union rather than pass a decree forcing teachers back to work.
This article would not have been possible without the help of Anagabriel Trevino, Mark Patrick McGuire, Roy Fu and SUJAC.