The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation has announced another one-day strike for Monday, January 22nd.
“Teachers are saying enough is enough,” STF President Samantha Becotte said. “We need to know that we will have a long-term commitment from this government to provide sustainable and predictable funding to school divisions and then, in consultation with teachers, make the decisions that are necessary to support every kid across our province.
This will mark the second strike for teachers in the province, as over 13,000 hit the picket line and braved the cold earlier this week.
“The day after our first strike action, rather than acknowledging the outstanding efforts of teachers, the Minister [of Education] attempted to make it all about salary demands. If he had been paying attention,
he’d know our job action was about so much more than that,” Becotte continued. “We’re seeking long-term commitments from government on critical issues impacting students, including class size and complexity
– not patchwork pilot projects that don’t fix the systemic issues in our schools.”
The job action also comes after both sides have dug into their sides and are waiting for the other to budge.
Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill has said that his government is interested in something other than bargaining class complexity and size. STF has stated this is a key asking point in their negotiations.
“That’s a line in the sand for government that we’re not going to be moving on. We again believe classroom size and complexity are best dealt with by school divisions locally-led school divisions.”
Donna Haurpauer said the government is ready to negotiate, pointing to recent deals with SaskPower, SaskEnergy, and the Saskatchewan Medical Association.
“I wish the teachers would come back to the table so they could be one of those tables that are actively negotiating.”
Becotte said that until the government brings forward a new proposal, teachers are not interested in returning to the table.
“This government continues to not take this process seriously. They are ignoring the big issues in public education and leaving our kids off the list of priorities, and that needs to stop,” she said. “Teachers are not willing to go sit at a table with the government bargaining team and hear no for another eight hours a day. That’s not productive for anyone’s time.”
Becotte said that the government has been misrepresenting the negotiation process.
“When we negotiate, our expectation is that there’s a back and forth, and I’m not sure the Minister of Education actually understands that negotiations process and that when we present a proposal, and it should be the same for the government when they present a proposal, those opening proposals should be able to have a back and forth conversation and that is not what we’re experiencing in this process.”
She said the government has also misrepresented its salary proposal to the public, which Becotte said isn’t its primary focus.
The STF has proposed a salary proposal of two percent over four years and protections around increases in the cost of living.
Becotte added that they are willing to continue to take action, like one-day strikes, for as long as it takes.
“If we do not take these actions when our government, our province is in such economic prosperity, as we hear from the Premier of Saskatchewan, if we cannot adequately support our students now, when are they going to make it a priority?” she said. “How long is it going to take? That’s a good question for the government. My question would be, when are they going to come back to the table and engage in those conversations? As I said, the Minister has my phone number; the bargaining team knows how to contact our bargaining team. They need to call and let us know that they have a renewed mandate and want to get back to the table and engage in these conversations.”
Regarding any long-term strike, Becotte said teachers want to be in school and don’t want to cause disruptions like in Quebec, where teachers walked out for 20 days.