Several student associations from Universities and CEGEPs in Quebec have rejected the tentative deal reached with the provincial government that would end a 13-week strike.
Votes were carried out Monday amongst certain student groups at many Quebec universities and CEGEPS, with all but one group rejecting the deal so far.
The deal in principle, reached Saturday, centres on a delay of a tuition increase until December, when a joint committee reports on how to trim expenses in university and CEGEP budgets.
The proposed increase of $1,625 per student would be spread over seven years.
Any savings found by the committee would be used to reduce tuition, offsetting the increase. The government has said there’s no guarantee any savings will be found.
“Is it the perfect deal? I think the answer is no. But is it the best deal we have yet? I think the answer is yes,” said Léo Bureau-Blouin, leader of Quebec’s federation of college students, FECQ.
Complete rejection possible
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesman for the student group CLASSE, said the agreement is far from a done deal.
“People would have hoped [for] something a little bit more interesting after all those strikes,” he said. “It’s very probable that a lot of general assemblies will reject the offer.”
One student website has published what purports to be an insider's account of a marathon 24-hour negotiating session that led to the arrangement over the weekend.
That blow-by-blow description accuses the government of using sleep deprivation to get students, in the morning after all-night negotiations, to agree to what was put before them.
It says a few significant details were changed and that the final agreement isn't exactly what the students thought they had agreed to.
Results by end of week
Student votes are expected to continue over the next several days.
CLASSE expects to have complete voting results by mid-week. The federation representing Quebec’s university students have scheduled a special assembly to discuss the results on Friday.
According to CLASSE, 171 students associations representing more than 167,000 students are still participating in what they’re calling an unlimited general strike.
If the students accept the deal, students who have been refusing to attend class should still be able to save their semester, though they won't finish until the end of June, according to the head of the association of university rectors.
Even with a potential deal on table, student protests continued in Montreal over the weekend.
Several hundred demonstrators took to the streets Sunday night downtown in a protest that was visibly smaller than those that had been held nightly in the two weeks between when talks broke off and a deal was reached.
Two people were arrested.
At least seven protests were planned throughout the province Monday.