95% of Sask teachers vote in favour of job sanctions

Click to play video: '95% of Sask teachers vote in favour of job sanctions'
95% of Sask teachers vote in favour of job sanctions
WATCH: A dispute between Saskatchewan Teachers Federation and the provincial government is ramping up. As Global's Easton Hamm reports, the federation shared the results of their job sanctions vote. – Oct 27, 2023

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.

Click to play video: 'Sask. Teachers’ Federation calls out ‘favouritism’ in education funding'
Sask. Teachers’ Federation calls out ‘favouritism’ in education funding

“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.

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“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, saying nine out of 10 proposals were shut down, but previous statements from the province claim that they are still at the bargaining table in good faith.

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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 flaunted 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.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation president reacts to government’s $40 million funding for education'
Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation president reacts to government’s $40 million funding for education

He said he was concerned by the strike vote, claiming the intent of it was to jeopardize classroom learning and extra-curricular activities.

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“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.

She said testimonials and pictures showing black eyes and broken bones had been provided from teachers suffering injuries from violence in the classroom.

Billboards started popping up across the province over the summer from the provincial government announcing, “A Fair Deal for Teachers.”

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 $90,300 annually, and Saskatchewan teachers making $92,000.

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.

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Click to play video: 'Many Regina schools over capacity'
Many Regina schools over capacity

Becotte said that the education sector in Saskatchewan was broken and that the provincial government broke it.

She read letters from teachers describing poor conditions in schools, with one saying that a classroom built for 15 kids now held 25.

“There’s mould growing underneath a portable unit,” one letter read.

It spoke about not having enough time to do everything listed in the teacher’s role, saying they were “frustrated, burnt out and have no job satisfaction.”

After the STF announcement, CUPE announced that union educational support staff would be avoiding additional duties that would be currently done by teachers, adding that they stood in support of teachers.

“Education support workers understand that taking on additional duties will weaken any job actions taken by teachers,” said Omar Murray, chair of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers’ Steering Committee.

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“Teachers need to know that education workers are standing with them, we are stronger when we are together.”

Global News has reached out to the Sask. Party government for comment, but they did not respond by deadline.

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