Skip to main content

Sask. teachers' union says labour disruption is 'virtually inevitable'

Share

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) says labour disruption is "virtually inevitable" after a lack of progress over five days of meetings with a labour ministry conciliation board.

In a message to its membership contained by CTV News, the union said it believes the provincial government's bargaining committee headed into the meetings with no new mandate "to negotiate on issues that are crucial to students and teachers."

"Government has squandered what is one their last opportunities to bargain seriously on the issues at hand and ensure there are no labour disruptions in the sector," the message said.

The STF is pushing to include language concerning matters such as class size and student supports in its new contract.

However, the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC), which includes government and Saskatchewan School Board Association representatives, has maintained class size and composition are outside the scope of the negotiations and are decisions best left to school divisions.

The STF says that stance didn't appear to shift once the conciliation board got involved.

"The GTBC maintains that it has no interest in addressing the foundational elements of the way the sector works through the collective bargaining process. In other words, the government does not want to bargain on your working conditions," the message to union membership said.

The conciliation board was brought in after the STF officially declared an impasse in contract talks in October.

Following the declaration, STF members voted 95 per cent in favour of authorizing potential job actions up to and including a strike, with 90 per cent of members taking part in the vote.

In a news release sent to media on Wednesday, STF president Samantha Becotte said the government "has now set a course that makes job action by teachers – and the disruption that comes with it – virtually inevitable."

The union says will be "finalizing the strategy for implementing sanctions" as it awaits the conciliation board's final report which is expected to be issued by Jan. 15.

Since summer, the Saskatchewan government has touted a proposed seven per cent wage increase over three years, calling it a "fair deal" in a widespread advertising campaign.

In a statement sent in response to a CTV News interview request, the province reiterated its position on including issues such as class size student supports in the contract.

"The Government of Saskatchewan will not bargain away the ability of locally elected school boards to continue to make these decisions," the statement said.

In its statement, the province accuses the STF of "cancelling meetings and walking away from the table earlier in the process."

"I mean, they can be willing to sit down at the table. But if they're just going to continue to say no, that's not engaging in true negotiations," Becotte said in a Zoom interview Wednesday.

"If they're just gonna come and refuse to engage, it's it is a bit of a waste of time for both both sides of the table."

During a Dec. 4 news conference, Becotte said the federation's push to expand the talks beyond compensation isn't without precedent, citing similar examples in other Canadian jurisdictions.

The STF's most recent contract expired in August. It was signed in 2020 after a round of tense contract talks which saw teachers withdraw from voluntary extracurricular activities.

During her interview on Wednesday, Becotte said the public would likely get a 48-hour notice ahead of any job action. 

"We're giving this government every opportunity to avoid any disruptions and if there are disruptions they are the ones that are responsible for it," Becotte said.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

DEVELOPING

DEVELOPING Motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive

Former U.S. president Donald Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life injected fresh uncertainty into an already tumultuous presidential campaign, while President Joe Biden implored Americans to 'cool it down' in the final stretch and 'resolve our differences at the ballot box.'

U.S. judge dismisses Trump classified documents case

The U.S. federal judge presiding over the classified documents case of former president Donald Trump in Florida dismissed the prosecution on Monday, siding with defence lawyers who said the special counsel who filed the charges was illegally appointed.

Stay Connected