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Sask. teachers warn of 'escalation' of job sanctions

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Saskatchewan teachers are expected to broaden their job action after the long weekend.

As teachers in the Prince Albert and North Battleford regions walk the picket lines Friday, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) says it is notifying the public and government "to expect an escalation of job sanctions" when classes resume on Feb. 26 after next week's break from classes.

"It is alarming that our government is disregarding this overwhelming, unified message from the public. It suggests that they don’t really care about Saskatchewan’s kids or public education, and shows a level of disdain for Saskatchewan’s citizens,” STF President Samantha Becotte said in a news release.

“If government does not get serious about bargaining, they can anticipate that job action will not only continue but escalate."

Earlier Friday morning, The teachers' federation sent out a news release saying its bargaining committee declined an invitation to resume negotiations because the government-trustee bargaining committee was not given a new mandate to discuss specific issues like class size and complexity.

"The STF remains disappointed in the government’s bargaining tactics," Becotte said in a separate news release. "At the same time as government is limiting the authority of its negotiators, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill is stating in an interview that if the STF “isn’t ready to talk about the issues on the table, then what’s the point of meeting?”

The union representing Saskatchewan teachers and the province’s education minister traded dueling videos Monday evening, with each side accusing the other of walking away from the table.

When the timeline of negotiations was revealed on Wednesday and the competing claims were parsed, it appeared the government was the first to call it quits, belying its initial statements.

With negotiations again at an impasse, STF members from Prince Albert and North Battleford participated in rotating strikes that initially began on Feb. 1.

The STF says teachers will provide a minimum of 48 hours' notice prior to any further job action.

--With files from Rory MacLean.

 

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