Contract talks with Nova Scotia teachers and government collapse, job action ‘likely’
Talks between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and provincial government broke down Friday, with the union saying job action is “likely.”
“Government invited us back to the bargaining table but remains unwilling to negotiate working conditions into our collective agreement,” Union President Liette Doucet said in a release sent late Friday.
The two sides met on Monday and Friday of this week with the help of a conciliator. It was the first time they met at the negotiating table since teachers rejected a second tentative agreement in October.
Teachers will be in a legal strike position on Monday Dec. 5. The union has not yet said whether it will immediately call a full strike, or if it will start with work-to-rule or rotating strikes.
“We are disappointed,” Doucet said. “Teachers have been crystal clear. They want real, concrete improvements to the system. They want to teach, not more empty promises and rhetoric.”
Teachers gave the union a 96 per cent strike mandate after the latest contract was rejected. Teachers who have spoken with Global News say classroom conditions like class size and composition, as well as teacher compensation are the primary sticking points.
A union spokesperson could not say whether the government conceded on any of those issues during negotiations.
Premier Stephen McNeil said in a statement he is “disappointed that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union walked away from the negotiating table.”
“The most recent proposal from the province included everything in the previous agreement, and an additional $10 million to address classroom conditions, with the direction of spending to be determined by a working group of teachers, school boards, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development,” the statement reads.
McNeil called the proposal from the union “unrealistic” and says it would have cost tax payers close to $500 million, which he said is “simply not acceptable.”
While the government released the total cost of the teacher’s proposal, it did not release the total cost of its contract proposal. No one from the government was able to explain how the two compare. However, in a series of tweets McNeil’s Principal Secretary Laurie Graham said the union asked for two per cent wage increases for each year of the four year contract and for the long service award to be kept.
McNeil has previously said the government would not provide more money for teacher compensation.
“I want to reassure parents that we will continue to do everything we can to find a resolution as quickly as possible,” McNeil said.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.