A granite sculpture in front of a building, which represents a woman and a child with a book in their hands.

The granite sculpture of Inuit artist Peter Qumaaluk Itukallak, aka Peter Boy, in front of Puvirnituq secondary school (Archive photo)

Photo: Radio-United States / Myriam Fimbry

It is not only the members of the Interprofessional Health Federation (FIQ) for whom negotiations with Quebec are stalling. The 1,600 teachers and school support staff in Northern Quebec are still in an impasse, while their colleagues in the South have agreed on new collective agreements.

For members of the Northern Quebec Employees Association (AENQ) who work within the Cree and Kativik school boards, the issues to be resolved are no less pressing than elsewhere in Quebec.

With an annual turnover rate of 30% among teachers who work in remote northern communities, it is time for attraction and retention bonuses to keep pace with inflation, believes the president of the union, Larry Imbeault.

It is not normal that a premium that was adopted in 2001 is still at the same level. (…) It would help a little if the premium was indexed.

A quote from Larry Imbeault, president of the AENQ

Under the terms of the latest collective agreement, members of the support staff and teachers of the Kativik School Board receive a retention bonus ranging from $3,000 to $9,000 annually, depending on their seniority and the sector in which they work.

Larry Imbeault interviewed in an office.

The president of the AENQ, Larry Imbeault, deplores the slowness of negotiations with the Quebec government.

Photo: Radio-United States

At the Cree School Board, it is different, this bonus was abolished to introduce four new bonuses instead. But on the Kativik side, it’s the same bonuses since 2001deplores Larry Imbeault.

However, if teachers have not seen their bonus adjusted for decades, a source confirms that that of workers in the health and social services network, members of the FSSSCSNwas finally done during the most recent negotiations.

%”,”text”:”The bonus had not been reviewed since 2011, for example, for social workers. There, it increases by around 20%”}}”>The bonus had not been reviewed since 2011, for example, for social workers. There, it increases by around 20%explains this same source.

By email, the office of the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, acknowledges that the attraction and retention bonus has not been indexed for employees of the Kativik School Board. But he adds that such a bonus of $3,000 was granted to other employees assigned to Nunavik in the health network who were not previously entitled to it, such as beneficiary attendants and housekeeping employees.

Working without water at home

Beyond bonuses, other major issues, non-existent elsewhere in Quebec, are at the heart of the demands of Nunavik employees. In isolated communities, access to drinking water is often irregular and members of the AENQ may wait several days before having access to water at home.

We know that it is not the School Board that is responsible for the distribution of drinking water. On the other hand, we would like (her) to demonstrate more openness. When a teacher has not washed for three or four days, he may feel uncomfortable coming to work. illustrates Larry Imbeault.

The trade unionist emphasizes that this problem is a major irritant and that it has often been addressed by the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), to which the AENQ, but without there having been any changes. At the Treasury Board Secretariat, the question is redirected elsewhere in government.

This question does not refer to working conditions. I refer you to the offices of Ministers Ian Lafrenière and Andrée Laforest for this question. writes a spokesperson for the LeBel firm.

In class, teaching conditions are often more difficult than in the South, even if the groups are smaller. Managing cases of violence is also a problem, argues the AENQ.

Right now, at the Cree School Board, our teachers are not even consulted or there is no conversation with them to find out how a student can be integrated after a violent incident. deplores Mr. Imbeault.

A very long negotiation

If, historically, the AENQ has always settled its negotiations with the government after all public sector employees, Larry Imbeault fears that this round will drag on as much, if not more, than the previous ones.

The union recalls that the last collective agreement for the 1,600 employees of the Northern school network, lasting three years, came into force… four days before its expiration.

This slowness in negotiations could be added to the list of irritants that are pushing several teachers to leave the North.

fun to have three years of retroactivity coming in at once, but during that time, your salary is not adjusted. If you compare with your colleagues in the South whose salary is adjusted… Sometimes you start to ask yourself questions, do I stay or apply in a school service center in the South? It’s the fun to have three years of retroactivity coming in at once, but during that time, your salary is not adjusted. If you compare with your colleagues in the South whose salary is adjusted… Sometimes you start to ask yourself questions, do I stay or apply in a school service center in the South? asks Larry Imbeault.

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Faced with the impasse in current negotiations, the union cannot rule out increased pressure tactics and even strike days during the next school year.

The Quebec government says it wants a settlement as quickly as possible but does not want to comment further, since negotiations are ongoing.

The last collective agreement expired in March 2023.

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