Support staff in Quebec’ education sector, represented by CUPE, have announced 11 strike days in 18 school service centres, school boards and CEGEPs in May and June throughout Quebec. Unhappy with the offers from the Legault government, they are mobilizing to stand up to the province. In total, 10,000 workers will be on strike. This week, support staff in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and James Bay will walk off the job.

Contrary to the government’s claims, a 5% wage increase was offered at the bargaining table, not 8%. Since negotiations began in December 2019, offers from the Quebec government have practically gone unchanged.

  • December 2019: 5% wage increase over 3 years plus a lump sum.
  • March 2020: 5% wage increase over 3 years plus a lump sum.
  • March 31, 2021: 5% wage increase over 3 years plus a lump sum.

At his press conference last May 2, Premier François Legault simply repeated the 5% offer over 3 years dating back to 2019 with a 3% lump sum, a one-time payment that would not be added to wages. A 1% increase was also suggested in negotiations that would be paid if and only if the economy cooperated, which would be an act of faith.

Workers with the school boards, school service centres, CEGEPs and the following colleges are preparing take strike action.

  • Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (more than 102 institutions in western and south-western Montreal)
  • Centre de services scolaire Marie-Victorin (73 institutions in Montérégie, Longueuil, Brossard, Boucherville, Saint-Lambert, etc.)
  • Centre de services scolaire de Rouyn-Noranda (Rouyn-Noranda)
  • Cégep d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Rouyn-Noranda, Val-d’Or, Amos)
  • Centre de services scolaire de la Capitale (Québec)
  • Centre de services scolaire de la Rivière-du-Nord (Saint-Jérôme, Mirabel, Sainte-Thérèse, Lachute, Rivière-du-Nord, etc.)
  • Centre de services scolaire de Laval (Laval)
  • Centre de services scolaire du Lac-Témiscamingue (Témiscaming, Latulipe, Lorrainville, Notre-Dame-du-Nord, etc.)
  • Centre de services scolaire des Affluents (Repentigny, L’Assomption, Terrebonne, Lavaltrie, Mascouche, etc.)
  • Centre de services scolaires de la Pointe-de-l’Île (Anjou, Montréal-Est, Montréal-Nord, Pointe-aux-Trembles, Rivière-des-Prairies, Saint-Léonard)
  • Centre de services scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Mille-Îles (Blainville, Deux-Montagnes, Saint-Eustache, Terrebonne, etc.)
  • Centre de services scolaire de Portneuf (Donnacona, Portneuf, Deschambault, Neuville, etc.)
  • Centre de services scolaire de la Baie-James (Radisson, Chapais, Matagami, Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Chibougamau, etc.)
  • Centre de services scolaire de l’Or-et-des-Bois (Val-d’Or, Senneterre, Malartic, etc.)
  • Professionnels de Laval, des Mille-Îles (Laval) et des Affluents (Repentigny)
  • Centre de services scolaire de Saint-Hyacinthe (Saint-Hyacinthe, Acton Vale, Roxton Falls, Saint-Jude, etc.)
  • Centre de services scolaire des Grandes-Seigneuries (Châteauguay, Delson, La Prairie, Candiac, etc.)
  • Collège Maisonneuve (Montréal)
  • Collège de Valleyfield (Valleyfield)
  • Collège Marie-Victorin (Montréal)

In March 2020, at a meeting called by the premier, the Quebec government asked union leaders to step up negotiations, an invitation that the FTQ responded to. However, since that time, little has been done by the employer to wrap up negotiations, particularly with respect to the support staff.  

Since lump sums are only a one-time payment and not part of the compensation package, they do not count toward payments made at retirement, vacation pay, insurance, and so on. Over a 25- or 30-year career, this means thousands of dollars of lost income for workers. In fact, only two sectorial tables out of the 45 bargaining tables came to an agreement.

CUPE represents support staff in daycare services and special education, specialized workers (electricians, plumbers, caretakers) professionals, office employees, administrative personnel, among others.

A few statistics to dispel some myths and produce a fuller understanding of the issues in these negotiations:

  • Average salary of public sector employees (FTQ): $39,818.76;
  • Average salary of casual and temporary employees (FTQ) in the public sector (other than regular): $28,184.06;
  • Public sector wage lag (FTQ): 9.2%;
  • Percentage of women we represent (FTQ): 73.8%;
  • Percentage of workers who have neither permanent status, nor a full-time position (FTQ): 42.3%.

The FTQ, which is the largest labour federation in Quebec, represents more than 600,000 workers.