‘There’s definitely understaffing,’ says a union rep, outlining one of their grievances
For parents of children attending Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board schools where rotating teacher strikes have disrupted many families’ lives, there’s a promise of labour peace until January at least, although strike action could resume then if the provincial government and striking teachers fail to come to an agreement.
Picket line solidarity
Several hundred teachers from SWLSB schools and vocational centres from all over the board’s territory – including Laval but also the Lanaudière and Laurentian regions – gathered outside Laval Junior Academy on Daniel Johnson Blvd. earlier this month for a noisy picket line demonstration of solidarity.
Melanie Massarelli, a former LJA educator who is now director of membership welfare for the Laurier Teachers’ Union, said in an interview with The Laval News that the LTU members have many of the same grievances as their counterparts in other provincial teachers’ unions.
Support lacking: union
The complaints centre largely around classroom working conditions and the pedagogical integration of students. “Unfortunately, as a generality there is no support for the teachers,” she said, noting that teaching students with disabilities has become a key issue because classroom assistance is lacking.
“There’s definitely understaffing – there’s a lack of teachers,” she continued. “Even the qualified teachers that leave university, within their first five years 50 per cent of them drop out. For us this is a big issue.”
Regarding working conditions within the SWLSB itself, she said the board struggles to convince qualified teachers to accept positions at schools located in some of the SWLSB’s northernmost reaches in the Laurentians.
Says incentives needed
She said the board would need to improve conditions and provide more incentives to fully certified teachers, many of whom completed their university studies in Montreal and other urban centres, so they agree to teach in rural areas like Joliette, St. Agathe and Rawdon.
While many of the teachers involved last week in the demonstration outside LJA previously walked picket lines outside their respective schools, they gathered together for one last massive show of unity before the Christmas holidays.
Massarelli said the teachers could walk out on strike again in January, prior to which the union leadership would have to serve seven days notice.