Union membership at centre of renewed labour dispute with Nova Scotia teachers

Click to play video: 'Teachers union gears up for fight against N.S. government'
Teachers union gears up for fight against N.S. government
WATCH: The Nova Scotia Teachers Union says a strike vote will be held next week, despite knowing that any job action would be illegal. Jennifer Grudic has more on what this could mean for students, and why the union says it is important to fight back – Feb 14, 2018

Nova Scotia’s education minister says the provincial government’s latest standoff with its 9,000 unionized teachers appears to have more to do with union membership than addressing challenges in the classroom.

Zach Churchill, speaking a day after the Nova Scotia Teachers Union called for an unexpected strike vote, says the main issue “driving opposition” to the Liberal government’s proposed education reforms is a proposal to remove principals and vice-principals from the union.

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

Churchill says the province wants to give more autonomy to principles, who as union members can face a conflict of interest when supervising staff while also receiving directives from the union.

READ: NSGEU ‘stands united with teachers’ as strike vote looms

However, union president Liette Doucet says there is no conflict of interest because the province’s 1,000 principals and vice-principals are teachers who maintain collegial relationships with those they supervise.

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WATCH: Teachers concerned over “sweeping changes” the province plans to implement for the education system

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia teachers prepare to fight ‘sledgehammer’ changes'
Nova Scotia teachers prepare to fight ‘sledgehammer’ changes

She says only three provinces – Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia – have separated these administrators from teachers unions.

Doucet says splitting the union membership creates a business-type model, which she says has led to more grievances in the three largest provinces.

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