Removing or changing items in the newly legislated Nova Scotia teachers contract would make it more tenable for teachers, according to the union.
Executive director of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) Joan Ling gave a legislative committee a long list of proposed amendments to Bill 75, which continued Thursday at the law amendments committee.
The bill was introduced after the province’s 9,300 teachers rejected a third tentative agreement last week.
The union wants changes to language limiting work-to-rule, changes to the proposed working conditions committee and the reinstatement of an extra two days off which was part of the last tentative agreement.
Calling the legislation a “farce,” Ling said by limiting future options for a work-to-rule job action the government is removing the right to strike. She said the union will fight the bill in court if Bill 75 is proclaimed.
“If you refuse to make the changes that we are suggesting then it is very clear you do not want to protect the right to strike and you will be reminded so in a court of law,” Ling said to the committee.
Despite many teachers criticizing the proposal, Ling said the two extra paid days off should be included in this contract in lieu of teachers losing the long service award.
Ling criticized the new version of the working conditions council, saying it translates to the union losing its voice at the table.
In addition, Ling called on the government to implement the slightly more emeritus wage pattern negotiated during the third round of talks. By going with the wage pattern set out in the first tentative agreement, the government says it will save $18 million.
The committee will debate whether to consider the amendments proposed at the end of witness testimony.
According to legislative counsel, 400 people have asked to speak to the committee, so far 100 have been contacted but it’s not clear yet how many people will be allowed to speak to MLAs.
Opposition parties tried unsuccessfully to extend the time period for teachers to offer their views on legislation that will impose a contract on them.
New Democrat and Tory legislators argued in the law amendments committee that due to safety concerns over snowy roads, some teachers couldn’t drive to Halifax to voice their objections to the four-year contract.
However, the Liberal majority on the committee voted down the motion for a time extension, prompting teachers and union leaders in the legislature to express their opposition to Bill 75.
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union says it will hold a one-day, province-wide strike Friday to protest the legislation.
Premier Stephen McNeil says the legislation will bring an end to disruptions caused by the teachers’ work-to-rule campaign, which began Dec. 5.
— With files from The Canadian Press.
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