The majority of teachers in Saskatchewan have voted in favour of job sanctions after several years of trying to voice their concerns to the Sask. Party government.
The announcement was made in Saskatoon on Friday morning after the negotiations between the Government of Saskatchewan’s Trustee Bargaining Committee and the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee reached a standstill.
The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation said about 90 per cent of teachers cast a vote between Tuesday and Wednesday, adding that if the executive deems sanctions necessary between now and June 30, 2024, this vote will provide support.
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“I want to be very clear that an obstinate and out-of-touch government is forcing this situation down an unfortunate path,” said Samantha Becotte, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation.
“Teachers want to negotiate a fair deal at the bargaining table. We are hopeful that the conciliation process will be successful. But the results of this vote send a very clear message. We are united, we are prepared, and we are ready to fight for our colleagues, our students and the families who are struggling in underfunded and under-resourced public schools across Saskatchewan. I want our government to finally listen to what teachers are telling them with this vote: Enough is enough.”
Becotte said that the province refused to budge on matters, but previous statements from the province claim that they are still at the bargaining table in good faith.
Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill posted a video on X (formerly known as Twitter) to say it is important for children to be learning in the classroom and participating in extra-curricular activities.
Cockrill also flaunts the education funding that the Sask. Party has made, touching on new schools built or renovations made.
“We’ve been clear that we are at the bargaining table with a fair deal for teachers. We are ready to continue bargaining because we want to ensure predictability for teachers, for families and for students across our province,” Cockrill said.
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He said he was concerned by the strike vote, claiming the intent of it was to jeopardize classroom learning and extra-curricular activities.
“Instead of working with us to find solutions, the education minister and premier try to villainize teachers and shirk their responsibility for public schools,” Becotte said.
Becotte said back on July 21 that attempts to negotiate regarding violence in the classrooms and class size and complexity have been hitting a wall, adding they’ve had trustees acknowledge that the complexity of classrooms has increased, but didn’t feel it was a bargaining issue.
Billboards started popping up across the province over the summer from the provincial government announcing, “A Fair Deal for Teachers.”
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The billboards said teachers would see a “7 per cent salary increase” in big, bold lettering, with “over three years” being written in much smaller lettering underneath.
The billboard also claimed that average teacher salaries as of 2022 had Western Canada teachers making $90.3 thousand, and Saskatchewan teachers making $92 thousand.
Documentation from the Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement 2019-2023 shows that if a teacher has a Bachelor of Education and more than 10 years of experience, then they could hit that $92,000 mark, but that was not the starting rate.
The STF has been holding rallies across the province, with one lined up for Saturday in Saskatoon from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. outside MLA Paul Merriman’s office at 3521 8th St. E., and another to be held in North Battleford on Nov. 4 in front of Cockrill’s office.
Global News has reached out to the Sask. Party government for comment.
More to come.
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