Deal on Quebec student strike fizzling

A tentative deal to end the three-month long student strike in Quebec has so far received a strong rejection from students. On Monday, students in more than a dozen institutions had rejected the deal reached on Saturday, while student leaders accused the provincial government of claiming victory over the striking students. The leaders of the student groups also accused the Charest government of failing to include in the deal what had been discussed during last week’s talks.

Under the deal, tuition fees would rise by $254 a year but other ancillary fees would be reduced and a special provisional council, including student members, would be created to review university spending and curb extra fees students pay in addition to tuition. The vote on the deal continues in Quebec throughout the week, but the early votes indicate it will not put an end to the crisis.

From the Globe and Mail:

Leaders of the student movement demanded that the agreement be clarified to include the government’s verbal commitment, made at the bargaining table, that reductions in surcharges as well as all savings made by the universities would go to lowering tuition fees.

And they contend that the minister’s comments inflamed an already heated debate over an agreement which, from the outset, failed to meet the students’ demands for a freeze on the fee hikes.

“The comments made by the government have done nothing to appease the confrontation. That was not what we agreed to at the bargaining table,” said Martine Desjardins, president of the Quebec federation of university students. “It has contributed to sabotaging the deal.”