February 20, 2018 5:11 pm
Updated: February 20, 2018 6:31 pm

Job action possible as early as Thursday over N.S. reforms, teachers’ union says

WATCH: Parents in Nova Scotia are left with few answers after the Nova Scotia Teachers Union would not discuss their plans following a strike vote on Tuesday. Marieke Walsh has more.

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Nova Scotia’s 9,300 public school teachers could launch job action as early as Thursday if they endorse an illegal strike, the president of the province’s teachers’ union says.

Liette Doucet said the union executive will meet Wednesday to review Tuesday’s strike vote and decide whether to release the results publicly.

She said job action, including work-to-rule activities, a rotating strike or a walkout, are all options that would be on the table if teachers vote in favour of a strike.

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They could also choose to take no action as they push the government to pause education reforms, Doucet said.

“If we do take job action, it will be because we want to stop this legislation,” the head of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union said Tuesday.

“We want the government to take a serious look at the concerns of teachers and the fact that the needs of our students are not being met.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia teachers vote on illegal strike action

Doucet appeared confident the union will receive a strike mandate, saying the teachers “are willing to stand up for what’s right” and “fight for public education.”

“Nova Scotia schools are already in crisis,” she said.

“There is not enough support for students, teachers are not given enough time to teach and the (education) reforms will turn a crisis into a catastrophe.”

Doucet said she believed most parents support the teachers and understand the union’s actions are for students and the future of education.

Both the union and teachers would face stiff financial penalties if they go on strike while a collective agreement is in place.

Sarah Gillis, a spokeswoman for the Labour and Advanced Education Department, said there are labour board processes in place to deal with illegal strike activity.

She said illegal strike activities could lead to specific fines of up to $300 per day for the union and up to $200 per day for a union officer or representative.

However, if an illegal strike activity continues despite a Labour Board decision ordering employees to return to work, the penalty is up to $10,000 a day for the union and up to $1,000 a day for each teacher or individual, Gillis said.

WATCH: NSTU President speaks ahead of strike mandate vote

The union called the unexpected strike vote last week to protest the province’s decision to largely endorse a consultant’s report recommending sweeping education reforms, including the removal of 1,000 principals, vice-principals and supervisors from the union.

The report by consultant Avis Glaze makes 22 recommendations, including eliminating the province’s seven English-language school boards and creating a provincial college of educators to license and regulate the profession.

Education Minister Zach Churchill announced last week that principals and other school administrators will get a year to decide whether to keep their jobs and lose membership in the union, or return to classroom teaching and remain in the union.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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