Saskatchewan teachers to vote on final bargaining offer from government in May

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Saskatchewan teachers to vote on final bargaining offer from government in May
After months of contract negotiations between the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government over the last several months, a deal could be in sight – Apr 18, 2024

After months of contract negotiations between the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government, a deal could be in sight.

On Wednesday evening, STF said that after two days of negotiating, the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) has presented its final offer.

Click to play video: 'Teachers’ job action led to ‘stressed’ workers'
Teachers’ job action led to ‘stressed’ workers

The teachers’ bargaining committee decided to bring the offer to Saskatchewan teachers for a vote on May 8 and 9.

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The final offer includes:

  • A three-year agreement.
  • Salary increases of three per cent in year one, three per cent in year two and two per cent in year three with retroactive pay to September 2023.
  • Reference to the accountability framework in relation to a Memorandum of Understanding among the three parties.

“After two days of seeing little to no movement, we decided to take their final offers to members to take a look at it and provide their voice within the process.”

A statement from the GTBC said “the STF and the GTBC have reached a tentative agreement. The STF has agreed to take the offer to its membership for ratification.”

It said the agreement provides stability to the education sector and enhancements to teachers’ benefits package, and includes an accountability framework.

“The GTBC feels this is a fair and reasonable agreement that will benefit Saskatchewan students, teachers, and families,” it said on Wednesday.

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation said on Thursday that it saw little to no movement from the government during the most recent bargaining talks but stated it would remain neutral and be “bringing the facts” to teachers before the voting process.

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“There was no willingness to find further solutions within the bargaining process that addressed the concerns that teachers have brought forward in this,” STF president Samantha Becotte said on Thursday.

She said there are only slight improvements compared with the previous offer, but noted salary has barely increased and it doesn’t address the teachers’ loss of purchasing power.

She added the STF didn’t reject the offer immediately because teachers should have a chance to give their opinion on the improvement in the new agreement.

Throughout negotiations, the STF has said issues like classroom size and complexity need to be addressed within the contract.

Recently the minister of education Jeremy Cockrill announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was offered to teachers with support from the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, but STF said the government wouldn’t make it binding.

Cockrill said all parties would work together to create an accountability framework for the multi-year funding agreement that was signed between the SSBA and the education ministry earlier this year.

Becotte said the accountability framework is one of the improvements in the offer from the GTBC this week and that the dollars in the multi-year funding agreement will help address the challenges of classroom size and complexity.

Cockrill said on Thursday that it was “incredibly encouraging” to have both parties at the bargaining table over the last two days and for a tentative agreement to come from it.

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“If you are taking something to members, that’s a tentative agreement,” he said. “I can’t control how the STF chooses to communicate about this.”

He noted the government has offered the largest compensation increase for teachers in the province since 2011, saying it is above the Western Canadian average.

Despite the STF’s positive attitude toward bargaining last week, Becotte said relationships have been damaged and won’t be easily repaired.

Cockrill disagreed, saying the government and STF are in a better place than they have ever been during the bargaining process and that he is committed to visiting school divisions and repairing relationships with the STF.

The May vote will be the first time Saskatchewan teachers will be voting on an agreement since job action took place and the impasse was declared in October 2023.

Becotte said it is hard to say which way teachers will vote and there is always the potential for continued job action.

“If it isn’t ratified there is the potential of continued action,” Becotte said. “It is unfortunate but that is the point where we are at at this time.”

More to come.

– With files from Global News’ Andrew Benson


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