Alma College students ordered to end picket lines

A judge in the Saguenay region has issued a temporary injunction ending the student walkout at Alma College.
Students at Alma College voted to join the general strike against tuition increases in March. (Radio-Canada)

A judge in Alma, in the province’s Saguenay region, has issued a temporary injunction ending the student walkout at Alma College.

The judge ruled the legal basis for the strike was not solid.

Students at the school, who voted to boycott classes in early March, will be forced to end their picket lines on Monday. The school's administration said it expects students to return to class.

Students will fight injunction

Leo Bureau-Blouin, the head of Quebec's Federation of College Students, said the students would fight the order.

"The judge [hasn’t] heard both parties," he said. "It’s only something temporary and in 10 days the judge is going to analyze the permanent injunction."

Jane Menard said students opposing the strike felt the demonstrations violated their right to attend classes. (Radio-Canada)
Jane Menard, a member of the group of Alma College students who took the case to court, said she is pleased because the case could set the precedence for other injunctions.

"What we wanted was our rights respected and that's what the injunction has done," she told Radio-Canada.

"We want to go to school and we found we were bullied out of that right."

Students at the college plan to take down their picket lines, but will continue to boycott classes, Bureau-Blouin said.

On Friday, a University of Montreal law student lost his bid for a similar court injunction.

More than 300,000 Quebec students have joined the strike, according to estimates by student associations.

For months, they've been engaged in a stalemate battle with the province over proposed tuition hikes that will see their fees rise by more than $1,600 a year.

The student say the hikes are unfair and will limit access to university education in the province. The government says the increases are necessary and, even with the hike, students in Quebec will still be paying among the lowest tuition fees in the country.

More protests are planned for the week ahead, including a bike demonstration in Montreal on Sunday.