By Robert Green
Teachers in Quebec contribute a significant portion of each pay cheque to their provincial association. For teachers in Quebec’s English school system, that association is the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT). Teachers in Quebec’s French school system are divided between two federations. The biggest and oldest of these is the CSQ-affiliated Fédération des syndicates de l’enseignment (FSE). Due to a number of concerns over such things as Quebec’s infamous pedagogical reform and the 2005 collective agreement, nine teachers unions, largely representing teachers on and around the Island of Montreal, voted in 2006 to disaffiliate from the FSE and form la Fédération autonome de l’enseignment (FAE).
A cursory comparison of the work being done by these unions to advance and defend the interests of teachers raises serious questions about whether teachers in Quebec’s English school system are being adequately represented by QPAT.
Part one of this article will look at what the three Federations are doing to keep their members informed. Part two, which will appear next week, will focus on the finances and ongoing campaigns of the three federations.
One of the important roles played by teachers unions in Quebec and indeed across Canada is to keep their members informed of political developments affecting the interests of teachers and other public sector workers.
To that end both the FSE and FAE have regularly updated sections of their websites dedicated to the latest news. The FSE has both an ‘Actualité’ section, a press review called ‘À la une’ and a ‘quoi de neuf?’ section. The FAE has a ‘Nouvelles’ section with an impressive array of articles on a wide range of issues affecting teachers. In both cases, the websites contain commentary on the most recent issues. For example, within days of Francois Legault’s recent proposal to impose a professional association on Quebec’s teachers, both sites provided readers with news and analysis on this important question. Similarly, both sites provided analysis of the provincial budget and the Minister’s recently announced anti-bullying campaign.
QPAT’s ‘Latest News’ section on the other hand contains all of six posts, the most recent being nearly a year old, from May 2011.