February Break Pauses Job Action By Teachers, But No Talks Scheduled

Its hard to see getting Saskatchewan’s teachers, and the provincial government on the same page. The two sides have dug deep into their positions and there is little hope of compromise.

The teachers want the issues of “class size and class complexity” negotiated at the provincial level, with the provincial government because they control the purse strings.

The government, and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association would rather see this issue discussed on a school division level.

The SSBA says the provincial government has set aside 53.1 million dollars to help each school division deal with “class size and class complexity”.

According to a statement from Jaimie Smith-Windsor, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, the school divisions will work with teachers trustees, and senior administration will be established to identify and address priorities.

The Government Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) hasn’t been given a mandate from the provincial government to talk about this at the bargaining table, and is instead focused on wages for teachers. The SSBA is willing to negotiate this framework with the STF, but teachers have been steadfast, the discussions about this have to be with the GTBC.

The GTBC invited teachers back to the bargaining table late last week, but the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation has refused because it won’t bargain over “class size, and class complexity”.

“Teachers want to be at the bargaining table and making progress toward an agreement.” says SFT president Samantha Becotte. “However, the Minister’s statement leads us to believe there’s no value in meeting if the GTBC isn’t ready to discuss issues that are important to teachers. When the GTBC has a new mandate and is prepared to discuss all of the issues, including class size and complexity, we are ready to return day or night,”

This same issue went to the Supreme Court of Canada which ruled the BC Government over stepped its bounds in an imposed settlement, and it had to bargain with that province’s teachers union.

With the February break this week in schools, there will not be much of an opportunity for teachers to put pressure on the provincial government through job action. That will change when students return.

“Government has doubled down on misleading the public, distracting from the serious issues facing students and refusing good faith negotiations. Their behaviour is deeply disrespectful to students and families, the collective bargaining process and the 13,500 teachers of this province,” says Becotte.

“Unless they are willing to return to the table and actually negotiate, we have no choice but to continue using the tools available to us to hold them accountable. We know that this is a difficult and stressful situation for families. We want to give them as much notice as we can so that families can prepare. If you are tired of this, as we are, please call your local school board trustee and MLA to voice your concerns.”

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