Quebec reaches tentative deal with striking teachers

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After weeks of striking, a major Quebec teachers’ union and the provincial government had a major breakthrough at the negotiating table.

The Federation autonome de l’enseignement (FAE), which represents some 66,000 teachers, has reached a tentative deal with the province over collective agreements.

They’ve reached a consensus regarding working conditions and salaries, according to the offices of Treasury Board Chair Sonia LeBel and Education Minister Bernard Drainville.

The details of the proposed agreement are not being shared, though.

The union says it first has to bring it to its council. If the council approves it, then it becomes an agreement in principle that will have to be submitted to all union members for a vote.

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For Marc Ranger, a former union leader, this development means the worst is over.

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“I’m very confident that we will be able to put that unlimited general strike behind us,” Ranger said.

The development comes after an unlimited strike since Nov. 23 and a four-day negotiation blitz.

The strike forced the closure of hundreds of schools across the province and students were out of class for about four weeks before the holidays.

Last week, Quebec’s largest teachers union, the FSE, approved its own agreement with the government over working conditions.

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But negotiations continue with unions such as the Common Front, a labour alliance representing about 420,000 public sector workers. It has also come to an agreement regarding working conditions but the main sticking point, salaries, is still being discussed.

“We need to be careful right now. It’s the most fragile part of a round of bargaining for the common front, the discussions over salaries is very important,” Ranger said.

“Fragile — but I think that we see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), which represents 80,000 nurses and other health professionals in Quebec, still hasn’t reached an agreement over working conditions.

Those negotiations have reached an impasse and a conciliator has been appointed.

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Ranger says that will be a tough battle.

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Quebec reaches tentative deal with striking teachers

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