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‘Enough is enough’: Sask. teachers bring strike line to the legislature

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan teachers rally around perimeter of legislative building'
Saskatchewan teachers rally around perimeter of legislative building
On Monday, Saskatchewan Catholic Schools Association president Chris Kampman commented on the rally that took place outside the Saskatchewan Legislative Building to "make education and kids a priority for the Sask. Party government." – Mar 4, 2024

Approximately 3,500 teachers brought a strike line to the Saskatchewan legislature Monday morning, interrupting the first day of the spring legislative session.

Click to play video: 'Sask. teachers should concentrate on bargaining to resolve strike: minister'
Sask. teachers should concentrate on bargaining to resolve strike: minister

“It’s line-to-line foot traffic of people circling the building,” Regina Catholic Schools Teachers’ Association president Chris Kampman said. “It’s teachers, it’s community members, it’s respectful, it’s peaceful. How do you ignore something like this?”

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Teachers from Regina Public Schools, Regina Catholic Schools, the Prairie South School Division, the Holy Family Catholic School Division and the South East Cornerstone School Division, as well as teachers from Conseil des écoles fransaskoises and the Saskatchewan Distance Learning Centre, made up Monday’s rotating strike, continuing job action and a push for bargaining.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan teachers to strike at legislature Monday'
Saskatchewan teachers to strike at legislature Monday

“We find ourselves in a frustrating place, obviously, still trying to get that same message out,” Kampman said. “We are looking for contract language that reflects class size and composition and we are still waiting for that.”

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation president Samantha Becotte said residents have sent more than 110,000 emails to government and school board trustees since the beginning of January.

As part of continuing job action from teachers, school divisions are participating in rotating strikes, the withdrawal of noon-hour supervision and pulling extracurricular activities on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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“Students, families and teachers are in this situation because this government simply will not listen,” Becotte said. “For years, they have not listened to parents, teachers, trustees and other experts in the education sector who have been raising alarm bells about underfunding. Today, we bring those concerns to their doorstep. Enough is enough.”

Saskatchewan teachers want topics like classroom size and complexity to be part of contract negotiations, but the provincial government refuses.

Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill said issues around class sizes are best dealt with by local school divisions as each division is likely to have its own issues.

“That is a line in the sand for government that we’re not going to be moving on,” Cockrill said in January.

Opposition leader Carla Beck said her government would negotiate on class size and complexity.

“For the sake of our kids, this province needs a government that acts like adults,” Beck said. “A deal should have been done weeks ago. It’s time for a government that will actually listen to the concerns of parents and teachers and bargain in good faith.”

Daniel Westlake, political studies professor at the University of Saskatchewan expects that the dispute will drag out for quite some time.

“They aren’t willing to budge on things that are important to the other side,” he said.

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More to come.

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