Quebec teachers' union to fight injunction forcing class

Campus climate is unsafe as a result of student-led protests: Union
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 04/23/2012

The union representing teachers at the University of Quebec in Outaouais, Que. (UQO) is asking the Quebec Superior Court to remove an injunction forcing classes to take place to take place.

Like other universities across the province, student-led protests have been taking place on UQO’s campus for the past 10 weeks. Some teachers have refused to teach classes as a result of the unrest.

It is impossible to teach courses in the current climate and there is a risk of compromising the health and safety of the teachers, the Teachers' Union of the University of Quebec in Outaouais (SPUQO) said in a press release. They will make their arguments to the Quebec Superior Court on April 23.

Late last year, student groups began protesting government plans for tuition increases. The province said tuition rates would increase by $325 each year over five years in order to increase university funding and cut provincial debt. As a result, tuition will cost $3,793 for full-time Quebec students by 2017.

In recent weeks, protests have escalated and grown violent. A total of 161 protesters were arrested for blocking the road near UQO on April 18.

The Quebec government asked the student associations for a 48-hour truce on April 23 in order to meet with them to discuss possible resolutions. The groups have accepted, indicating they would extend the truce if discussions proved to be beneficial.

“We are coming to these discussions with an open mind. We are ready to listen to what the Quebec government has to tell us,” said the president of the federation of Quebec college students Léo Bureau-Blouin. “There is no obligation to resolve it within 48-hours.”

For weeks, the government has remained firm on its stance that it would not meet with the student groups, but Minister of Education Line Beauchamp gave in to public pressure and called the meeting. While the government remains “firm” about the increase, Beauchamp says she is open to discuss it.

“We cannot stop the students from saying that they want to discuss a freeze on tuition fees. I will debate the issue with them around the table. But obviously we are firm about our position,” Beauchamp said.

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