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STF considers next move after conciliation talks fail with government

Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Patrick Maze discusses their bargaining plans.
Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Patrick Maze discusses their bargaining plans. Kael Donnelly / Global News

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) is considering its next steps after conciliation talks for a new contract failed.

STF president Patrick Maze said no progress was made during the four days spent in conciliation between the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee (TBC) and the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC).

Along with salary, the main issue for teachers is classroom size and composition.

“Essentially that was the main sticking point. Government seems to have no interest in addressing, with teachers, the issues that we’re seeing in our classrooms, and of course we would consider those our working conditions which are important to have the ability to negotiate,” Maze said.

“Government is indicating they disagree, and don’t really seem interested at this point in working with teachers to fix the problems that we’re seeing in our classrooms across the province.”

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READ MORE: Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation says contract talks at an impasse

Education Minister Gordon Wyant has previously stated classroom size and composition should not be discussed at the bargaining table.

The Saskatchewan government has since formed a committee tasked with addressing classroom sizes and composition.

The STF was offered a seat on the committee but declined. Maze said at the time he saw it as bad faith bargaining as the STF wants the discussion to be part of the bargaining process.

Maze said the federation’s next steps will be determined over the next couple of weeks.

“Initially what we’re going to do is meet with our provincial executive over the next little while here, and we’ve also got local association meetings booked across the province where we had hoped to be able to explain a successful deal at conciliation,” Maze explained.

“That will turn into explaining, kind of next steps and go from there. So yeah, we’ll explain what happened at conciliation and the process that we’re in up to this point and get a temperature with members as to where they want to go with next steps.”

READ MORE: Newly formed class size and composition committee in Saskatchewan set to meet

Maze said the TBC restated its offer of $20-million to assist school divisions in addressing student needs, but said the GTBC was not willing to explore the potential of the offer.

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In a statement, Wyant said the GTBC felt progress was being made on a number of contract issues.

“The GTBC awaits the report from the conciliation panel and continues to look forward to future negotiations with the Teacher’s Bargaining Committee,” Wyant’s statement concludes.

The Teachers’ Bargaining Committee said it is seeking a pay hike of eight per cent over three years — two per cent, three per cent and three per cent — after teachers went two years without a salary increase.

The province has pitched a one-time extra $1,500 payment funded from the teacher’s health plan in the first year of the contract, followed by two per cent raises in 2020 and 2021.

Global News has reached out to the Saskatchewan government for comment on the latest developments but has not heard back at the time of the publication of this story.

Saskatchewan government offers teachers 4% increase over 3 years
Saskatchewan government offers teachers 4% increase over 3 years