“We came up against the limits of the negotiation”: the accepted agreement is “honest” but “insufficient”, according to the FAE

The agreement in principle which was adopted by a majority of unions of the Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE) is “insufficient” but “honest”, declared the president during her first public outing since the end of the votes.

“Let’s be very clear, we have not had the agreement that the teachers deserve,” said Mélanie Hubert, president of the FAE, surrounded by representatives of the nine unions affiliated with the latter, at a press conference on Monday.

• Read also: FAE agreement in principle narrowly approved

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The government’s offer will indeed be ratified, with a double majority of members and local unions having accepted it. But at the same time, she cannot deny that most find her content “insufficient” to improve things on the ground.

“It’s not a victory […] The real victory will be achieved when public schools finally have the means to accomplish their mission,” she said.

Remember that the agreement with the FAE was reached at the end of a five-week strike, compared to a few days for the Common Front, i.e. the teachers represented by the Federation of Education Unions (FSE-CSQ).


Very quickly, in mid-January, the teachers’ disappointment with the agreement was felt. The voting results were close, with four local unions rejecting the deal and four supporting it.

Then, the suspense ended on Friday. By accepting the 50.58% agreement, the Haute-Yamaska ​​Education Union sealed the fate of the 66,500 teachers represented by the FAE.

At a press conference on Monday, Mme Hubert said he approached everything with a “certain lucidity”.

“We will have to work to rally our members, who have doubts, who are angry with us, against the government and all that,” admits Mme Hubert, who intends to serve his term until its end in June 2025.

The new provisions concerning the composition of the class have in particular caused a lot of ink to be spilled. At primary level, a threshold of 60% of students in difficulty per cohort must be reached for a mechanism for adding resources to be put into motion.

Difficult negotiation

Why did the FAE then decide to present this agreement knowing that it did not live up to the expectations and “idealism” of its members?

“We came up against the limits of the negotiation,” summarized Mélanie Hubert. “The government chose to settle only at the last minute” and, in this context, the negotiating committee “went to the limit of what we could do”.

“It’s an honest agreement,” she said of the gains made, such as the mechanism for evaluating students in French or the gradual disappearance of recess supervision.


1) The unlimited general strike

“We will take stock of all that,” said Mélanie Hubert, while recalling that the desire to launch the unlimited general strike “came from the base”.

“All the decisions we have made since the start of these negotiations are the result of collective decisions. There’s not a decision that’s made when I’m all alone in my office […] That’s not how it works at the FAE,” assured the president.

2) Union democracy

The FAE has also been criticized internally due to its voting process. For example, the general assembly of the Alliance of Professors of Montreal, one of the FAE unions, ended at 2 a.m. in the morning.

“Is this desirable? The answer is no,” admits the president of the Alliance, Catherine Beauvais-St-Pierre. “We are thinking about seeing if there are other ways of doing things, if there are different avenues to make the assemblies shorter.”

Here again, it will be up to the members of each local union, if they wish, to review its operation in an assembly.

3) The absence of strike funds

FAE members chose to go on an indefinite general strike even though they had no strike funds. This is a decision that dates back to the founding of the FAE, explained Mélanie Hubert. The federation then chose not to create such a fund, which would involve levying special contributions and managing “astronomical sums” which would sit in the coffers.

This is why it was recommended that everyone set up their own emergency fund.

4) The future of public schools

“If teachers don’t lead this battle, we’ve often been told, no one is going to lead it in their place.”

Even if she admits that it is sometimes “absurd” that improving the education network requires the negotiation of a collective agreement, it is a “first step”, she explained .

“One of the basic problems is the three-tier school system,” added Catherine Beauvais-St-Pierre, president of the Alliance.

“What we have seen is that this government does not have education as a priority. It’s not true, that it’s his priority,” she commented.

The good news: during this strike, “there was an awakening of the population like we had never seen.”

– With TVA News

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