Progress reported in teachers dispute

There is some optimism when it comes to potential job action by Saskatchewan teachers.

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Patrick Maze sat down Tuesday morning with education minister Gordon Wyant and school board trustees to try and find some common ground and they just may have.

Maze said the meeting went well and that the two sides will sit down again in the next week and a half.

“We were able to find some common ground,” said Maze. “I think everyone wants a solution that’s in the best interest of students across Saskatchewan and we worked from that common goal.”

The meeting came one day after Maze released results of a sanctions vote taken by the province’s 13,000 teachers in which 90 percent voted in favour of job action of some kind.

Class size, composition and salaries are the three main sticking points.

Teachers walked off the job for the first time in Saskatchewan history in 2011. That walkout lasted three days.

Positivity from government following meeting

Wyant believes they have made positive strides as the sides continue to keep dialogue after their meeting on Tuesday morning.

Wyant mentioned that they have agreed the issues are important ones that need to be addressed, however concrete solutions have yet to be discussed.

Reflecting on the sanctions vote results and the possibility of job action, Wyant said he feels optimistic about their initial meeting, however job action will be up to the teachers based on the progress made during these conversations.

“We’re respectful to the collective bargaining process and the right of teachers to withdraw their services if that’s what they think they need to do to press their issues,” explained Wyant.

“But I’m quite positive that we can move the conversation forward in a positive way to the benefit of teachers, the government and most importantly, to the benefit of our children in classrooms.”

Saskatchewan education minister Gord Wyant. (Photo: Moises Canales/620 CKRM)

Wyant doesn’t think STF leadership particularly wants to take job action or exercise their sanctions vote, but would rather move the conversation forward to resolve the issues on hand.

The minister said there is a middle ground to be found between the parties.

“I made it very clear when we started the conversation that I wasn’t there to negotiate a contract. We have the government trustee bargaining committee and the teachers have their committee as well,” stated Wyant.

“That’s the place where the ultimate contract is going to be negotiated at that table. I think to have a conversation around class size and composition as part of that is important.”

(With files from Moises Canales)

More from 620 CKRM