Thousands of Quebec teachers vote for 5-day strike mandate

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Teachers at Anglophone school boards in Quebec have voted in favour of a five-day strike their union says could be held as soon as "the time is right."

The mandate obtained by the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT), which represents 8,000 teachers, follows a similar move by its French-language equivalent, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ).

Both unions say the provincial government isn't providing teachers enough support to do their jobs under strained conditions made worse by the pandemic.

"The needs are so great in schools and centres that teachers are frustrated and have sent a very clear message," said QPAT president Heidi Yetman in a news release sent Monday.

"They want working conditions that enable them to do their job and meet the students' great needs, but negotiations have led nowhere. The government needs to hear us."

Among the demands, the union says teachers want smaller classes, more services for students with learning difficulties, higher wages and better job security.

In a news release of its own, the CSQ said the pandemic has shone a light on the "system's incapacity to respond to needs."

The labour leaders say they are willing to collaborate in their negotiations with the government. But that hasn't stopped the union representing 3,000 Montreal teachers from demanding Education Minister Jean-François Roberge's resignation.

Roberge has taken that call to resign and the strike mandates in stride, and told reporters at an event last week that "I feel like (teachers) are eager to conclude a deal, it's been almost a year since the collective agreement ran out."