Canada

Quebec Superior Court refuses to halt planned strike by 73,000 teachers

In declining to issue an injunction, the court found that school managers should be talking to the Quebec Labour Tribunal.

A strike scheduled to last a little over 8 hours on Wednesday and involving 73,000 teachers who are members of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec seems poised to go ahead after a Quebec Superior Court rejected an attempt by school management to issue an injunction halting the work action.

The strike is scheduled from 1 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and involves 73,000 CSQ-affiliated teachers employed in pre-school, elementary, secondary and adult training classes in French-lnguage school service centres and English school boards.

The court ruled that it was not its role but rather that of the Quebec labour tribunal, which has exclusive jurisdiction in matters related to the provincial labour code, to intervene in the issue.

School management had filed a request for a permanent injunction stopping the strike, which they claimed put in peril the health and safety of students because its timing would have effects on school transportation and the supervision of students.

The union argues the timing was to put pressure on management while not interrupting the students’ school day.

Management also described the strike as being “abusive” in nature because, given other unions would respect CSQ picket lines, its effects would go beyond the parties directly involved in the labour dispute.

However the court saw things differently. “It is paradoxical that the plaintiffs (school management) allow that a day-long strike is legal, yet one that ends at 9:30 a.m. requires judicial intervention,” wrote Justice Philippe Cantin.

The judge noted also that the request for the injunction was, in his view, the equivalent of the court’s being asked to “limit the impact and inconveniences of a strike which, however, is legal.”

As the strike deadline looms it remains to be seen if school management will try their luck with the labour court.

Josée Scalabrini, head of the CSQ-affiliated Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement, said the strike order remains in effect.

“We’re anxious to see now if the school service centres will continue to go to court or work with us to ensure this strike ends as quickly as possible. We don’t want this strike,” she said.

The teachers have been without a contract since March 2020.

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