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Sask. teachers to withdraw lunchtime supervision for one day


As contract negotiations continue to languish, Saskatchewan's teachers' union says educators will withdraw noon-hour supervision on Thursday.

"All teachers provide many supports over their lunch break. These services are voluntary, as they're not part of their professional responsibilities of teachers that are legislated in the Education Act," Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) President Samantha Becotte said.

On Thursday, teachers across Saskatchewan will withdraw from providing voluntary lunch supervision or taking part in noon-hour activities, instead, they will leave the building.

"Government has provided us with a 'take or leave it offer' and after nine months ... they have not engaged in any negotiations and remain firm on that opening offer. Their disengagement in the process is absolutely disrespectful to students and teachers," Becotte said.

The fresh job action announcement comes after one day after the union said there would be another, partial one-day strike on Wednesday. Teachers will walk off the job in Saskatoon, surrounding communities. Teachers in the province's north will also hit the picket line as part of the single-day strike.

Contract talks between the union and the Saskatchewan Government have been at a standstill since October over the issue of whether items like class size and support for students with complex needs can be negotiated at the bargaining table.

“Every one of these announcements has been disappointing because I know that it affects students and families at the end of the day. So it's not where we'd like the situation to be,” Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill told reporters Monday.

The government has remained steadfast in its position that locally elected school boards best handle those issues. However, the STF has pointed to examples in other provinces where teachers have been able to negotiate similar items into their contracts.

Cockrill says the last time he spoke with Becotte was on Jan. 11, prior to the STF’s first strike action. When asked about what discussions have happened since then within government – he said a renewed mandate for the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) was one topic.

“I think discussions are around a renewed mandate. The GTBC operates on direction from government. So certainly within the Ministry of Education we're having those discussions,” he explained.

“I mean, we have been clear on items that we don't view as bargaining. But there are several items that we're having discussions internally and we don't have a renewed mandate at this time. Again, any renewed mandate would require both sides to be at the bargaining table.”

“Certainly we're looking on our end in terms of what's reasonable. I hope that the Teachers' Federation is doing the same thing on their side,” he added.

In an attempt to move forward with bargaining, the two sides met with an STF-requested conciliator over five days in December. The conciliator's report suggested the two sides could negotiate terms around class size and complexity without running afoul of Saskatchewan legislation.

Saskatchewan teachers have been working without a contract since August. They walked off the job in two one-day province-wide strikes on Jan. 16 and Jan. 22 and a partial one-day strike on Feb 1 that saw teachers in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and North Battleford, and many towns throughout Saskatchewan hit the picket line.

Since summer, the government has touted its proposed salary increase of seven per cent over three years, an offer advertised on billboards and through online ads.

The government has claimed the STF's starting proposal of a 2 per cent annual raise over four years combined with the yearly increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) would amount to a 23 per cent pay hike.

During a Jan. 29 news conference, Becotte said the union's salary ask is only an "opening" proposal and further negotiation is possible.

In October, 90 per cent of STF members voted 95 per cent in favour of job action up to and including a full withdrawal of services. Top Stories

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