Nunavik teachers ponder tentative deal

Union members to vote March 30


AENQ president Patrick D’Astous called for an immediate end to pressure tactics after Nunavik teachers and their employer reached a tentative deal Feb. 24. (PHOTO COURTESY OF AENQ.ORG)

AENQ president Patrick D’Astous called for an immediate end to pressure tactics after Nunavik teachers and their employer reached a tentative deal Feb. 24. (PHOTO COURTESY OF AENQ.ORG)

(updated 3:00 p.m., Feb. 27)

The Nunavik teachers union reached a tentative agreement with the Kativik School Board Feb. 24.

The 400 teachers represented by the Association of Employees of Northern Quebec will now review the deal and vote on it March 30, exactly one year after the teachers’ last contract expired.

Union president Patrick D’Astous said Feb. 24 that the KSB’s negotiating committee made a “very satisfactory” offer which “responds to all the union’s priorities.”

D’Astous also called for an immediate end to pressure tactics, whcih included a series of intermittent strikes planned this spring.

The new agreement met demands for a more culturally appropriate calendar and the creation of a policy for special needs students.

“The [KSB negotiating committe] has negotiated an agreement that will improve services to some 3,350 school children in Nunavik, will contribute to the well-being of employees and increase the efficiency of the school board in the management of resources,” said Jean-Claude Turcotte, the spokesperson for the KSB’s negotiating committee, in a Feb.25 release.

Highlights of the agreement include:

– a special education policy with a clear evaluation process and intervention plan, which can be grieved;

– letter of intention from the KSB which aims to increase the special education evaluation capacity to at least 300 students/year;

– maintaining the maximum number of students in a secondary class at 19;

– an opening in the collective agreement to allow for an adapted school calendar;

– a letter of intention that the KSB will apply a solution to the food transport problem at a later date, following talks with Quebec’s treasury board [currently, teachers must use 50 per cent of their food transport allowance with Canada Post, a policy that be impacted by the implementation of Nutrition North in April 2011];

– teachers would only be responsible of the normal maintenance of a tenant [like in South], the rest being KSB’s responsibility;

– a guarantee that the number of dependants will be the first criteria for allocation of housing until 2015;

– adult education teachers would receive two trips south per year instead of one; and,

– the snowmobile/all-terrain vehicle shipment allowance will be extended to 15 months, so teachers can wait to purchase a vehicle in their second year.

Negotiations with KSB’s negotiating committee focus on non-wage provisions of the collective agreement – terms of salary are settled between a provincial teachers union and the Quebec treasury board.

D’Astous said the KSB also agreed to lower the value of its subsidized units, which in turn will lower the taxable housing benefit for teachers, although this is not a contract issue.

Talks between the union and the KSB negotiating committee broke down after teachers overwhelmingly rejected the school board’s previous offer Feb. 8.

But the two sides agreed to return to the table Feb. 22.

This latest deal means the immediate end to all of the union’s pressure tactics, D’Astous said, which began earlier this week with ads in local media and teachers wearing yellow union armbands to work.

Intermittent strikes had also been scheduled to begin in March, leading up to an unlimited strike in September 2011.

“I think the message was well received,” D’Astous said.

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