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Nova Scotia teachers strike avoided as province, union reach agreement

Click to play video: 'N.S. Premier responds to teachers voting in favour of strike mandate'
N.S. Premier responds to teachers voting in favour of strike mandate
RELATED - After an overwhelming majority of Nova Scotia Teachers Union members voted in favour of a strike mandate on Thursday, the province's premier said he expects a tough "but fair" bargaining process to begin next week. As Zack Power explains, teacher retention, violence in schools, and a lack of resources remain key issues amongst educators. – Apr 12, 2024

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says an agreement in principle has been reached on a new contract for public school teachers following conciliation talks held earlier this week.

Houston has not released details but says the deal addresses teachers’ concerns around such things as pay and classroom conditions.

The in-person conciliation discussions between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the provincial government began on Monday and continued on Tuesday.

Last week, the union received an overwhelming strike mandate from 98 per cent of members who voted.

Houston told reporters after a cabinet meeting today that he took part in the talks late Monday. He says he believes the agreement is one that teachers can be proud of.

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Since negotiations began last June, the NSTU has highlighted a lack of headway made on issues involving pay, staff retention, substitute teacher shortages, and the rise of violence in schools.

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Ryan Lutes, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, confirmed the agreement during an interview with Global News on Thursday afternoon. He said “positive talks” continued with both bargaining teams through Wednesday.

“I’m positive in the fact that the two sides came to an agreement on the key issues,” he said, adding that a lot of the agreement’s details have been drafted onto paper.

“We want to make sure both sides have a common understanding and that it’s vetted by our bargaining team.”

Despite being unable to delve further into specifics at the time, Lutes noted that several of the union’s core priorities are being addressed in the updated contract. He said he anticipates improvements regarding teacher compensation, classroom conditions, and workloads.

“There’s no secret that we have a teacher recruitment and retention crisis. We can’t hire the teachers that we actually need, so teacher compensation is part of that,” he said.

“We wouldn’t have an agreement in principle if we didn’t feel like we were making headway on those items.”

The union is yet to release a timeline on when full details of the new contract will be made public, but Lutes said more information will be made publicly after members are notified.

“At the end of the day, we were able to achieve something that worked for both parties. I think there’s going to be some positive improvements that come out of this agreement,” Lutes said.

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— with files from The Canadian Press 

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