Striking teachers block the ports of Montreal and Quebec City | CBC News

Members of a striking teacher’s union, theFederation autonome de l’enseignement (FAE), blocked the entrances to the ports of Montreal and Quebec City early Thursday morning, as negotiations with the provincial government appeared to have stalled this week.

The union, which represents the province’s 66,000 elementary and high school teachers, rejected Quebec’s latest offer Wednesday night, calling it a “smoke screen” with many failures in its demands. The FAE leadership accused the government of using a strategy of tired teachers, who have been picketing since Nov. 23.

Union members also blocked access to the Casino du Lac-Leamyin Gatineauat 8:45 am Thursday. Union officials there also encouraged members and local residents to demonstrate outside the Outaouais offices of the Coalition Avenir Qubec MNA on Thursday afternoon.

Teachers began blocking the entrance to the Port of Montreal at the corner of Notre-Dame and De Boucherville streets in Montreal around 6 a.m. before completely blocking Notre-Dame Street.

Many trucks line the road because they cannot access port facilities, slowing traffic in both directions. The demonstration ended around 8:30 am

According to the Montreal Port Authority, the action will have a “significant impact” on port operations. Between 500 and 800 trucks, about 25 percent of the port’s morning traffic, were unable to complete their transactions.

FAE members blocked Notre-Dame Street in southeast Montreal. Many trucks line the road because they cannot access port facilities. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

“The boat Franois Legaultug the government that brought us is rocking. It is time for Franois Legault to assume his responsibilities as a concerned head of state and bring this boat safely to port,” Patrick Bydal. FAE’s political vice-president, told Radio-Canada.

“Enough. It’s time for Franois Legault to hear us.”

In an interview with Radio-Canada’sTout un matinFAE president Mlanie Hubert said that although there had been progress on negotiated salaries, key issues such as working conditions and class sizes remained unresolved.

Students have been out of school for four weeks, and Hubert blamed the government for slow discussions. Teachers are eager to return to class, he said, but only once a mutually beneficial agreement is reached.

“Our members, for several weeks, have taken to the streets and the negotiations are not going where we want,” said Hubert.

Teachers blocked a pier with picket flags and signs
The Port of Montreal said the strike action will have a ‘significant impact’ on operations Thursday. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

Both the union and the government have said they want to reach an agreement over the holidays and Hubert said he is hopeful it will be possible.

Barry Eidlin, a sociology professor who specializes in labor issues at McGillUniversity, agrees.

“In labor negotiations, it’s usually darkest before the dawn,” he told CBC Montreal’sThe dawn.

Eidlin said it would be a “huge step backwards” for the government to issue back-to-work legislation.

“It weakens collective bargaining and sweeps everything under the rug, instead of addressing the underlying issues that led to the crisis in the first place,” he said.

Eidlin said that public support for the strikers remains high, especially among those most affected such as parents, who “understand the link between quality public services and quality wages in the public sector and working conditions .”

Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel declined to comment on the strike action and the rejected offer.

A coalition of public sector unions representing 420,000 workers known as the common front, which has threatened an indefinite strike in January, is demanding a 72-hour blitz with the government this week.

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