Moosomin area teachers protesting at the Saskatchewan legislature on Budget Day.Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Teachers across the province have spoken, and the answer is a resounding ‘no’. A final offer put forward by the Government-Trustee Bargaining Commitee for a provincial bargaining agreement was flatly rejected. Almost all the teachers in Saskatchewan cast a vote (92.2 per cent), and of those, 90 per cent were in opposition of the offer.

“The message to government and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association is crystal clear: their so-called ‘final offer’ is unacceptable and does a disservice to students and teachers. The Government of Saskatchewan and the SSBA must finally take this process and these issues seriously and work with teachers in good faith to address the crisis occurring in publicly funded schools under their watch,” said

Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation President Samantha Becotte. “This vote tells students, families and our Teachers’ Bargaining Committee that teachers are deeply committed to securing a sustainable future for publicly funded schools and for the supports our students desperately need in classrooms.”

The offer included an eight per cent pay increase over three years, broken down to three per cent in the first two years then two per cent in the final year. 

According to information from the STF, a return to sanctions as witnessed last month will not immediately happen, and the Teacher’s Bargaining Committee has expressed a desire to return to the bargaining table.

“We need a deal that guarantees the government’s full, unwavering commitment to the future of public schools beyond the election cycle. Anything less is untenable,” Becotte said. “We are now a year into this process, having opened negotiations last May. We are nearing the end of a school year spent under the shadow of an intransigent government that seems to disregard the largest job sanctions ever undertaken

by Saskatchewan teachers and ignore students’ needs. No more backroom deals and no more ‘final offers.’ School divisions are finalizing their budgets for next year and they’re indicating that funding is still grossly insufficient. The students, families and teachers of Saskatchewan need real commitments to improve experiences in classrooms and solutions to address the challenges in education.”

In a press conference late last week, Becotte pledged no further job action would take place if a commitment to return to bargaining is made, but the STF has not heard back from the GTBC for such a request.

“At this time, we have not received a formal response from the GTBC to the bargaining table with a new mandate, but I look forward to hearing the response as soon as possible,” she said, again underlining that any call to action would be preceded with 48 hours notice.

Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill noted last week that if a ‘no’ vote brought with it further job action, it may lengthen the current school year, ensuring students receive a full year of education. The STF saw such comments as an attempt to influence the teachers’ voting over May 8 and 9.

Class complexity has been one of the main points throughout discussions between the STF and GTBC. Becotte targeted recent statements she’s heard from the government side that classroom complexity would not be included in any new mandate.

“This has consistently been an issue that has been brought forward as a priority but not just by teachers, it’s by students, parents and members of the public,” she said. “We want to ensure that all students have access to the supports that they need to be successful in their education.” 

Teachers in Saskatchewan have been without a contract since last August with initial bargaining initiated last May. Through the fall and winter of 2023, job action took place included the ‘work to rule’ action for one week before talks resumed, resulting in the offer put to the teachers.

By Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 15, 2024 at 22:02

This item reprinted with permission from   Moosomin World-Spectator   Moosomin, Saskatchewant

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