February 13, 2018 4:39 pm
Updated: February 13, 2018 11:05 pm

‘We need to be prepared to fight for what is right and just’: N.S. teachers to hold strike vote

WATCH ABOVE: A public meeting was held in Lower Sackville by teachers so they could share their message with the community about concerns over “sweeping changes” the province plans to implement for the education system. Changes they say they’re prepared to fight with possible illegal job action.

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The Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) is planning to hold a strike vote next week.

In a statement, NSTU President Liette Doucet said the education system is “once again under attack from the McNeil government.”

The union says the government’s decision to implement the recommendations released in the Glaze Report prompted the vote.

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READ MORE: Report recommends scrapping most N.S. school boards, says system isn’t working

Education consultant Avis Glaze – whose report was ordered by the provincial government – released her report last month. It recommended scrapping all of the province’s English school boards in favour of a single “aligned model.”

“Last week we held information sessions around the province to discuss what the Glaze report will mean for our students, our classrooms and our profession. It was clear NSTU members agree the situation is dire and that as teachers and administrators we need to stand up for public education,” said Doucet.

The statement goes on to say “we cannot sit on our hands and let Stephen McNeil do to our schools, what he did to our hospitals.  We need to be prepared to fight for what is right and just.”

Government responds

The Department of Education disputed the legality of any strike by the NSTU as their current agreement is in place until July 31, 2019.

“Any job action undertaken while this is in place would be illegal,” said Heather Fairbairn, spokesperson for the department.

“We are disappointed that the union executive is taking this position and ask that it consider how such action would affect students and their families.”

Glaze report recommendations

The Glaze report gave 22 recommendations in total, including the removal of principals and vice-principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and into a new professional association.

The report recommended the establishment of an education ombudsperson to investigate and resolve concerns or complaints in the education system.

Glaze also called for a provincial college of educators to license, govern, discipline and regulate the teaching profession.

In January, Education Minister Zach Churchill said the province would implement all of of the reports recommendations.

An initial phase will see the province move on 11 recommendations, including the elimination of the elected boards.

At the time he said the change is needed to mend what’s become a fractured administrative system.

“It has not allowed us to respond or adapt as quickly as we need to, to the changing and developing needs of our kids. By unifying that system operationally, I think that will give us a better opportunity to do that.”

WATCH: N.S. Education Minister says compensation offer to NSTU won’t always be on table

Doucet says NSTU provincial executive has approved a strike vote to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

This will give the NSTU a mandate to implement a job action if the government is unprepared to back down from implementing the Glaze report.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill voiced support for the NSTU announcement.

“It is a huge step for the teachers’ union to consider this job action. It demonstrates clearly the depths of their concern over the changes being proposed to our public education system,” Burrill said in a statement

It has been a little less than a year since teachers held a one day strike over a government bill imposing a collective agreement on them.

With files from the Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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