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'Buckle up': Sask. teachers' union votes 95% in favour of potential job action


During a meeting of its council in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) announced the results of a vote earlier this week to authorize job actions.

The sanctions vote was announced on Oct. 16 after the union declared an "impasse" in contract talks, saying the provincial government is "refusing to negotiate" on issues such as class sizes and the increasingly complex needs of students

Speaking to around 300 teachers Friday morning, and more who joined online, STF president Samantha Becotte revealed 90 per cent of federation members participated in the vote — with 95 per cent of participants voting in favour of potential job actions up to and including a strike.

The authorization will remain in place until June 30 of next year.

"It is truly sad that our relationship with the current government has deteriorated so badly that a sanctions vote is even required," Becottee said.

Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation members responded positively to results of a vote authorizing job sanctions. (Josh Lynn/CTV News)

"This is on government, not on teachers," she said.

Becotte said the government bargaining committee has refused to bargain on nine out of 10 of the STF's proposals during nine previous meetings since May.

During her remarks prior to the votes, Becottee said the government has been "dismissive" of photos showing injuries sustained by teachers in the classroom, including broken bones and black eyes.

"They compared these incidences to slips, trips and falls," Becotte said.

"They refuse to engage. They refused to compromise. They refused to listen, preferring instead to read from lengthy prepared statements. This is not negotiation," Becotte said.

After Becotte announced the result of the sanctions vote, the teachers in the room stood and cheered as Twisted Sister's 80s anthem "We're Not Going to Take It" blared.

The lyrics scrolled on a screen in the room, with the line "No, we ain't gonna take it" altered to say "Moe, we ain't gonna take it" — referencing Saskatchewan's premier.

"The road ahead is going to be bumpy. There are going to be challenges. There are likely going to be setbacks, but we must remain committed to taking the action that is necessary to get what kids deserve in public education," Becotte said.

"So buckle up. Let's show up. We're all in this together.

Since summer, the provincial government has been running an advertising campaign that touts a proposed seven per cent salary increase spread over three years, calling it a "fair deal."

In a statement issued early Friday afternoon, the Saskatchewan government said it is "disappointed the STF is willing to impose sanctions that could impact students and their families."

"We remain at the table ready to bargain and it is our hope that the STF will come back and resume negotiations."

The government said a conciliation board will be established to assist the two bargaining committees, a measure formally requested by the STF following its impasse declaration.

Education minister Jeremy Cockrill has previously said classroom size and composition are not up for discussion as the government believes those decisions are best left in the hand of local school divisions.

The STF's most recent contract expired at the end of August.

It was ratified in 2020 after another round of strained contract talks was overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A similar sanctions vote held at the time resulted in teachers withdrawing from voluntary extracurricular activities.

--This is a developing story. More details to come. Top Stories

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