Nova Scotia teachers vote on illegal strike action

Thousands of Nova Scotia teachers rally outside province house on Feb. 17, 2017 . Cory McGraw/Global News

The province’s teachers will vote Tuesday on whether to grant their union the mandate to take illegal job action.

The strike vote announced by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) last week in response to the government’s planned overhaul of the education system. The Liberal’s plan includes the removal of principals and vice-principals from the union.

The vote started at 7 a.m. and will continue until 8 p.m. The union says its executive will decide on Wednesday what steps it will take in response to the vote result.

President of the NSTU, Liette Doucet, told Global News she doesn’t know if or when the vote result will be made public.

READ: Principals have one year to decide whether to stay in NSTU: N.S. education minister

Speaking on Global News Morning, Doucet said she’s “confident” the union will get a strike mandate.

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The union has 10,000 active members.

The Glaze Report that prompted the government’s plans to shake-up education administration has been met critically by the union and teachers.

“Teachers are frustrated, they’re angry, they’re upset,” Doucet said.

“The recommendations in this report do nothing to add to what (teachers) have been asking for their students.”

In an interview on Monday, teacher Drew Moore said he also expects his colleagues to give the union a strike mandate.

“I’m expecting it to be a ‘yes’ vote,” said Moore, who is also a member of his local union’s executive. “I’ve talked to a lot of people.”

WATCH: NSTU President speaks ahead of strike mandate vote

Click to play video: 'NSTU President speaks ahead of strike mandate vote' NSTU President speaks ahead of strike mandate vote
NSTU President speaks ahead of strike mandate vote – Feb 20, 2018

Ron Stockton, a labour and employment lawyer, told Global News last week that any job action would be illegal because there is a collective agreement in place.

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“The difference here, and I think it’s what upsets the teachers, is that they didn’t get to decide whether they’d go into this collective agreement. This was imposed upon them,” Stockton said on Friday.

“It still expects the teachers to abide by the law but the government’s broken the big bargain.”

If teachers do decide to take part in illegal job action, there could be hefty penalties.

Stockton says teachers could be fined under two sections of Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Act.

Individual teachers could penalized up to $1,200 a day, while the union could see fines up to $10,300 a day.

-With files from Natasha Pace

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