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Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and provincial government point fingers in bargaining process

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and provincial government point fingers in bargaining process'
Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and provincial government point fingers in bargaining process
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government are once again at odds, after bargaining between the two sides broke down Tuesday night – Feb 16, 2024

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government are again at odds after bargaining between the two sides broke down Tuesday night.

They were in the midst of two days of negotiations earlier this week. Who left the table first is up in the air depending on who you ask.

According to STF president Samantha Becotte, negotiations got off to a bad start, as she says they were meant to begin Monday morning but delayed by the government until Monday afternoon.

“On Monday at 1 p.m., we started the negotiations with some of the proposals brought by the Government Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC), including classroom complexity,” Becotte said Wednesday. “We put aside conversations on salary and benefits until another time.” “At that point, we had asked the GTBC to call the minister and get further direction on what we had proposed because it was clear they had not been provided with the authority to engage in negotiations at that time.”

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After a few items were presented, the two groups separated to discuss the proposals before coming back together. Becotte says STF was ready to come back to discuss, but the GTBC asked for more time.

Becotte said the two sides were set to meet at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday when they received word from the GTBC that they would not be returning to the table to negotiate.

As a result, job actions will resume on Friday.

Click to play video: 'Education minister’s summary of negotiations ‘misleading’: STF president'
Education minister’s summary of negotiations ‘misleading’: STF president

Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill however, has a different timeline of events.

Cockrill said the two sides did meet at 1:00 p.m. Monday, but once a new proposal was introduced, discussions stopped.

“By 1:30 we were the only ones left in the room,” Cockrill said Wednesday.

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“Teachers union leadership refused to talk about salary or any of the other items that they brought forward,” Cockrill went on to say. “They brought forward ten items. Class size and complexity is one of the ten items that they identified when the bargaining process started many months ago. We have moved from our initial offer showing that we’re wanting to get a deal done, a fair deal done, and the union leadership wouldn’t even discuss those items yesterday and walked out of the room.”

Click to play video: '‘Movement has been made’ on STF’s concerns, minister says'
‘Movement has been made’ on STF’s concerns, minister says

According to the minister, the GTBC made a number of offers this week including a new salary offer. Outside the contract, Cockrill said the committee has made a commitment related to classroom composition.

“STF leadership has expressed concern (about) long-term funding, and that it was going to disappear somehow, after next year or the year after that,” Cockrill said. “We put forward an agreement to union leadership that (increased funding) was going to be in the budget for years going forward. And obviously, any additional investment that we make in classroom complexity in the budget would be on top of $53.1 million.”

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Cockrill said the GTCB was available to bargain Tuesday and will continue to be until a deal is done.

“If you don’t have another party ready to bargain, it’s hard to have a discussion and get to a fair deal,” Cockrill said. “Our team will be ready to get a deal done.”

Becotte said the proposed offer to add funding to each year’s budget allows the government to change commitments year to year.

“This agreement doesn’t include anything new from what we have seen with their pilot projects or one time funding. The challenge with this is that they can cancel the agreement at any time,” Becotte said.

“Essentially the Ministry of Education and the Saskatchewan Party government are trying to make a pinky promise with teachers while they cross their fingers behind their back,” Becotte said, noting the government’s attempted side deal did not include the province’s locally elected school boards.

Job Action

On Feb. 16, a third round of rotating strikes will occur in the following areas:

  • Saskatchewan Rivers School Division
  • Prince Albert Catholic School Division
  • Living Sky School Division
  • Light of Christ School Division
  • Sakewew High School (North Battleford)
  • École St Isidore De Bellevue (Prince Albert)
  • École Valois (Prince Albert)
  • École Père Mercure (North Battleford)

Noon-hour supervision will also be withdrawn province wide.

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“Teachers in all schools province-wide will not be available to supervise students who are eating lunch at school or taking part in noon-hour activities and teachers will leave the building during each school’s designated lunch break period,” STF said in a release.

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