Sherbrooke tour- We need to improve the quality of school support staff jobs!

9 May 2022

“There is a serious problem of precariousness for the vast majority of jobs held by school support staff throughout Quebec.  This has serious consequences, leaving school services struggling to retain their employees and attract a new generation.  The solution is to improve the quality of support staff jobs on offer, especially in schools in the Sherbrooke region.”

Éric Pronovost, President of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ), is visiting the Sherbrooke region today to identify priorities as part of a major consultation of the federation’s 33,500 members, including those who work in the Centre de services scolaire de la Région-de-Sherbrooke. He is accompanied by Alexandre Boutin, Vice President of the Syndicat du personnel technique et administratif du Centre de services scolaire de la Région-de-Sherbrooke (SPTA-CSQ), and Guy Carpentier, President of the Syndicat des employées et employés manuels du soutien scolaire de Sherbrooke (SEM-CSQ).

Difficult to recruit

Éric Pronovost maintains that one measure that would make jobs more attractive is getting more continuous and regular work schedules. “The average salary of a support employee working 35 hours a week is only $30,000 a year, and 70% of our members hold precarious jobs. A few hours of work per week, often spread over an irregular schedule, will not solve the staff shortage problem,” warns Pronovost.

In the same vein, Alexandre Boutin adds that in such a context it should not be surprising that many workers recruited at job fairs end up abandoning their new position. “If you want to retain people, you have to provide them with attractive working conditions.  This is important, because these departures have consequences on the quality of services offered to students and on the workloads of staff who are left behind.  Both the government and the school service centers should be aware of this situation and make the appropriate offers during the next round of negotiations.”

Skilled workers are not happy

Guy Carpentier expects the remuneration of skilled workers to also be on the table in the next round of negotiations. “I am thinking specifically about very competent electricians, plumbers and carpenters, who carry out tasks and duties similar to their colleagues in the construction sector, without being entitled to the same salary. This obviously generates a feeling of unfairness,” laments the President of the SEM-CSQ. He wouldn’t be surprised to see these skilled workers demand that the 10% attraction and retention premium obtained in the last round of negotiations be integrated into the collective agreement and added to their salaries, making the payment permanent.  Throughout the health crisis, caretakers proved their importance when it comes to disinfecting and cleaning surfaces.  The Union is talking to the School Service Center about setting up a working committee to maintain best practices in this area.

Mobilization of support staff

Finally, it should be noted that the FPSS-CSQ intends to mobilize its members over the next few weeks, counting on their solidarity to send a clear message to the Legault government: school support staff deserve more than precarious jobs.  In the end, it is the children who suffer!