Nunavik teachers’ union announces strike day

‘After 25 meetings, we’re not getting any response. That’s why we have to send this message,’ says association president

Teachers and support staff at Nuvviti school in Ivujivik protest stalled contract negotiations in 2017. Their union is now planning a strike day to protest the lack of progress during the latest round of negotiations. (Photo courtesy of AENQ)

By Sarah Rogers

The union that represents Nunavik education workers has announced a one-day strike.

The Association of Employees of Northern Quebec, which represents Kativik Ilisarniliriniq teachers and support staff, says that day will be April 28.

The union has been negotiating a new contract for those employees since its previous contract expired in March 2020.

Teachers and support staff voted in favour of strike mandate in February. Union leaders say there’s been little progress with the school board or provincial government since.

“It’s the accumulation of not getting any answers,” said association president Larry Imbeault Friday morning during an online news conference hosted by its parent union, the Central des syndicats du Québec, or CSQ.

“After 25 meetings, we’re not getting any response. That’s why we have to send this message.”

The union is looking for a 1.75 per cent salary increase for its members in the first year — in addition to an hourly minimum for the lowest-paid employees — with a salary increase of 2.05 per cent in the second year and 2.20 per cent in the third.

Salary negotiations are happening between the government and the CSQ, while the association of employees is focused on more local issues for Nunavik staff, like regional disparities and benefits.

The latter remain major sticking points, Imbeault said, given the staffing shortages and unique learning needs of Nunavik students.

The union has asked for new measures to attract and retain staff, and to close the disparity in benefits offered to out-of-region staff compared to local residents, who are most often Inuit.

For example, the union has asked for rent subsidies for all of its workers, as well as a paid travel and food cargo allowances for those employees — benefits only offered to out-of-region hires.

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq only employs a single psychologist and two social workers across its 17 schools in 14 remote communities, noted Carolane Desmarais, a union leader with the Syndicat des professionnelles et professionnels des commissions scolaires de l’Ouest de Montréal (SPPOM).

“The shortage of teachers and support staff is strongly felt [in the North],” Imbeault said.

“More than ever, we must have measures that attract them and keep them there. If living, teaching and learning conditions were optimal, we could finally hope for an improvement in the success rate for these students.”

The union has only announced one strike day at this point; Imbeault said he will meet with representatives in Nunavik to determine any further strike action.

 

In the original version of this article, information about the school board’s psychologist and social workers on staff was credited to AENQ president Larry Imbeault, when in fact it should have been credited to SPPOM spokeswoman Carolane Desmarais. 

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by What A Pity!! on

    CRY ME A RIVER K.I. Teachers.
    I have lived in Nunavik my entire life and to hear that you want to go on strike because of your long work hours. How about checking your school schedule and add up the days you all have for PED Days. Or, how many days you do not work due to blizzard like conditions (haw haw lol winds over 30 kph and you all shut the school down). Or, how about scamming class trips to the Pingualuit Park. These trips are for the children and 85 percent of the people who travel there are adult teachers and your buddies. Or, class trips around the world. There would be 4 or 5 students and 6 or 7 teachers as escorts or chaperones. You all all using the K.I. and its students for your tax free benefit. CRY ME A RIVER!!!!!

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    • Posted by Yes, take pity. on

      A couple of things…..
      1 – PD days are still work days.
      2 – School staff do not close school, that is up to the local school authorities
      3 – class trips are arraigned by school staff
      4 – trips around the world are organized and arraigned by staff
      5 – just a quick google search and you will discover the average teacher work week is between 49-53 hours a week. Of course there are exceptions….but that is the average.
      6 – a vast majority of educators spend significant amounts of time and money improving their jobs skills which directly impact student learning.
      7 – in the end, it comes down to fairness. A happy and respected educator will create a happy and respectful learning environment.

      So yes take pity on educators, support staff, and students.

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  2. Posted by Nunavut Should Learn on

    The government of Nunavut has refused to enter into an agreement for over three years now and our union says nothing about going on strike. Good for these guys, asking for a bit more in a world where governemts are giving millions to corporations and to people who won’t work, those who keep things spinning in the pandemic like teachers and civil servants deserve raises.

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    • Posted by david chu on

      6% over 3 years and accommodations to unique living costs is a pretty modest request – especially in a ‘seller’s market’ where educators could take advantage…do a comparison with the NWT and see what youm think

    • Posted by Different influences, different results on

      While there is much to be said, for better or for worse, about the differences between parts of Inuit Nunangat due to which groups are the primary colonizers in which regions, clearly one of the positive influences in Nunavik comes from Quebec’s tendency to have the strongest labour movement in Canada.
      .
      The AENQ is far from perfect but like you say it is certainly better in standing up for its members than the Nunavut Teacher’s Association.
      .
      My hunch is that syndicalism is weaker in Nunavut due to the predominant influence of Ontarians and Albertans up there, rather than Quebecois who seem to pay more attention to labour action than elsewhere in the country.
      .
      The Kativik CSN union is also a great example of the benefit active unions can provide Inuit… I don’t even work in a workplace that is a part of the CSN up here, but we can just tell our managers what benefits the CSN workers get and often they will match it without question. So a rising tide of unions definitely helps lift more boats for all workers.
      .
      “Workers of the North, unite! you have nothing to lose but your chains!”

  3. Posted by Slushy Slosh on

    There are bad seeds everywhere unfortunately guess that is life.
    it all comes down to communication.
    if you trying to do something – communicate.
    you just need your employees to do their job.
    If they not doing their job then proper measures have to come down.
    This goes to all local and southern workers who come up to work.
    We all want a better life and we need to work together to make it through these times we living right now. We are all important here. Every single person and if we all work together that is right start .
    We are always facing staff turnovers in the north , quarantines, sickness. After 25 meetings still no answer? = poor communication
    maybe if you speak to all your union reps . Don’t they work in the same place anyways ? Everything is through email now a days too.

    slush time

  4. Posted by david chu on

    • educators have invested enormous time in their own training – and deserve a fair return on their investment
    • these people feed a significant portion of their income back into the community creating work for others
    • anybody who plays the “you only work from 9-3 and have x weeks off” card either knows they’re misrepresenting the situation or are living in a fools paradise (50-60 hour work weeks are the norm and lots of the ‘time off’ is spent recovering from stress or upgrading training to stay current)
    • kids in the north need access to the best educators and that won’t happen without fair compensation
    • educators are working people too, and working people need to stick together for protection against those who do their best to take advantage of us
    • if you think education is expensive…try ignorance and tell me how that works for you

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  5. Posted by Nunavut Worker on

    GN employees have been working without a contract for years. The Nunavut Employees Union doesn’t even tell us what, if anything, is happening. Maybe we need a wildcat strike – just to wake up the GN and the NEU…

  6. Posted by Deadlines are dead on

    It will hopefully be in place by 2039 – the magical date. How’s Nunavut’s calendars going? I guess the Dept of ED has that taken care of by now.

  7. Posted by Parent on

    So, you guys work long hours but can’t even grade my sons work? Because of the incompetence of KI, my kids are taking forever to be registered to a school down south after our move. I’ve also been waiting for an email for the past two weeks, which seems to be the norm for KI to provide answers.

  8. Posted by peter on

    Like reading the feedback from viewers, allows me to think outside the box from different perspectives. We waited 4 years due to government politics last time for an agreement so with a pandemic going on, be patient we will all come to an agreement it just takes time.

  9. Posted by J on

    I hope the result of this day of action is the understanding that teachers who feel like they are not as supported as their colleagues in other regions, will not stay – and money needs to be spend properly to match the needs of the educational commuinty. Teaching is as rewarding as it is stressful. There are many places in Canada that offer teachers a lot more support, and if Nunavik wants to compete with these regions, they need to work with teachers to come to an agreement as soon as possible. Studies show that when there is a link between student success and teacher retention. Relationship building needs time and patience, and takes more than 10 months – and teachers who have, over time, created culturally safe educational spaces with their students are both harder working, and more satisfied in their job. Teachers’ may try their best to fill in the gaps left behind by a lack of student support (social workers, psych ed, etc) but they don’t have the training or the time. Creating an educational space that fosters success of all students, is also an educational space where the support matches the need. Education isn’t a capitalist venture, nor should it be. The government of quebec needs to spend the money so that the students of Nunavik are well supported and the teachers of Nunavik feel that support also.

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