Over 400,000 of Quebec's public sector workers including civil servants, caretakers and teachers took part in a public sector strike on Wednesday of this week against government cuts. There was a mass demonstration in the capital, Montreal; teachers in the Canadian province are taking three days of action.
As part of the protest, a group of teachers, members of the FAE union, set up a camp opposite the Ministry of Education. However police evicted them in the middle of night, even though the site had been checked over by security. As the FAE leaders commented: 'It's a very precise example of how teachers are treated in Quebec and how we're treated at the negotiation table.'
The teachers have gained much support from parents, who have formed human chains around schools in support. Their struggle is about much more than pay, it is about cuts to education, which will increase class sizes and have a particularly detrimental effect on children with special needs.
The action has been coordinated by a common front of public sector workers and has been characterised by a determination to develop an alternative narrative to austerity. Actions have included occupying banks and the global consultancy firm KPMG. As one protester put it: 'There’s lots of money going to fiscal havens with the help of that firm, so saying that we don’t have money for public services is just not true. If we have the political will to go and get that money, then we would have money for public services—and for other things as well.'