Nunavik teachers strike for ‘improved’ collective agreements

‘Things have to change now!’ education workers chant outside the Kativik school board office in Montreal

A group of Nunavik teachers and support staff belonging to the Association of Employees of Northern Quebec picket in front of the Kativik Ilisarniliriniq school board’s head office in Montreal Wednesday. The union’s members staged a one-day strike over the slow pace of contract talks. (Photo by Stéphanie Ricci)

By Stéphanie Ricci
Special to Nunatsiaq News

MONTREAL — Nearly 50 education workers belonging to the Nunavik teachers’ union protested lagging contract negotiations outside the Kativik school board’s head office in Montreal Wednesday.

Union leaders representing Kativik Ilisarniliriniq teachers and support staff pressed the school board and provincial government for collective agreements that improve working conditions in northern communities.

“We are fed up that negotiations are going nowhere,” said Larry Imbeault, president of the Association of Employees of Northern Quebec, the union representing Nunavik teachers.

Teachers, education professionals and support staff of Kativik Ilisarniliriq also held a one-day strike in Nunavik’s 14 communities, picketing outside the region’s schools.

Larry Imbeault, president of the Association of Employees of Northern Quebec, the union representing Nunavik teachers, says its members are tired of slow progress in contract talks with the Kativik Ilisarniliriniq school board. The union held a one-day strike at the board’s head office in Montreal on Wednesday. (Photo by Stéphanie Ricci)

The union says the two sides have failed to reach an agreement after more than 25 rounds of negotiations.

While the employee association’s parent union, Centrale des syndicats du Québec, is negotiating salary increases, the association demands rent subsidies, cargo allowances and paid travel to address disparities in benefits for local and out-of-region hires and staff shortages, Imbeault told Nunatsiaq News.

“Teachers that go to work in Nunavik stay less than a year and a half, on average. There’s a big problem with retention and attraction because [schools] have to hire more and more non-legally qualified teachers,” Imbeault said.

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq has one psychologist and two social workers for its 17 schools in 14 communities, according to the president of the West Montreal school boards professionals union, Carolane Desmarais.

“Nunavik students are entitled to quality services like all other students in Quebec. For that, the government will have to make an effort,” she said.

Other regional factors, such as the high cost of living, impact learning outcomes, said Hélène Sabatié who taught in Inukjuak and Kangiqsujuaq for four years.

“It’s very difficult to have a stable internet connection which makes it complicated for the students and for our research,” she said.

“It costs around $145 per month, yet we don’t have it at home or in class, and it’s at our expense.”

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Parent on

    Day after the strike, my kid’s teacher calls in sick. A regular occurrence. Wish KI taught me well enough to become a teacher in my own community.

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    • Posted by Sick again on

      The number of sick days must surely have exceeded the allocation of what’s within the agreement. Teachers calling in sick, is a sickness within itself. It also contradicts what the union is trying to accomplish. As I see it both local and southerners call in sick, with more locals then southerners doing so. Most of this strike goals is to benefit locals, if it comes to be. But locals must start making commitments to stop this absenteeism. kI must do something about that, otherwise strikes like this are a joke.

      • Posted by Consistency on

        How many of the fly-in teachers have families? local teachers have more people in their home that can get sick and need help or bring the flu into the home.
        And standing in front of a class with students in front of you (even if they are all sick) is not the same as when you have kids of your own that are climbing on you when your at home (and added to that the kids in class have closer contact with each other then teachers would so the teacher that is a parent is at higher risk of catching a cold).

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    • Posted by Not taught well on

      That’s the problem. Teachers are not showing up enough to teach consistently. Too many call in sick days and absence.

  2. Posted by Solidarity Forever on

    The onions in Nunavut have bee without contracts far longer. Why are there no strikes in Nunavut?

    • Posted by R man on

      I’m happy with our onion supply. I am able to get green, white and red onions at my local NorthMart. I see no reason to strike over the issue.

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      • Posted by Wake Up Sheeple on

        You’ve been fooled! The “man” has deceived you! Your onions are not red! They’re PURPLE.

  3. Posted by EskimoNer819 on

    My grandpa’s grandpa never went to school to learn how to survive, but this is ridiculous.

  4. Posted by Demanding for equality on

    So, when is my kids school work going to be graded? You want equality? Do your jobs correctly!

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