P.E.I. Teachers' Federation president takes government job

Gilles Arsenault, president of the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation, has confirmed to CBC News he has accepted a job with the provincial government.

Gilles Arsenault moving to the Department of Education

Gilles Arsenault talks to Matt Rainnie about the decision to call off a protest over teacher allocation and his decision to accept a job with the department of education. 7:16

Gilles Arsenault, president of the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation, has confirmed to CBC News he has accepted a job with the provincial government.

Arsenault has been in the news recently as the point person for outrage over the provincial government's cutting of 28 teaching positions at the English Language School Board.

"I am sure there are people that might be concerned but my sole responsibility is to represent teachers and I've been doing that to the best of my abilities," Arsenault told CBC's Island Morning.

"I think it's a nice transition into continuing the work I'm doing but on a different level."

Arsenault said both as a union representative and in his new government job his role is supporting teachers in classrooms.

Arsenault will be co-ordinator of French programs. He said he's not hearing any concerns from union members.

"I am doing what's right for the system, in looking after the needs of teachers and our students," he said.

"I will do so until the end of my term. I haven't engaged in any other options. I will be off for the summer and my employment with government will start in the fall."

Rally not necessary

On Monday Arsenault called off a rally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to protest the teacher cuts, following a meeting with government and an announcement that the cuts would be reviewed.

Some parents and teachers have said they intend to rally anyway, but Arsenault said there is no need.

"The intention, like I said before, of the rally, is to be heard and to deal with teacher cuts. Both of those issues have been resolved," he said.

"The PEITF does not feel there is a need for a rally."

Arsenault said the government showed a willingness to work together, and that the federation understands the government has financial and fiscal challenges.

Last week the Teachers' Federation announced it had walked away from negotiations over a new contract with government, accusing government of bargaining in bad faith. A media release issued late Monday afternoon by the premier's office stated that, following the meeting earlier in the day with the two sides discussing teacher cuts, the Federation had agreed to resume negotiations over a new collective agreement.

Question of the day:Do you think Gilles Arsenault is in a conflict of interest in accepting a government job?

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