Saskatchewan teachers voting whether to take job action

Saskatchewan teachers voting on whether to take job action
WATCH: Saskatchewan teachers are voting on whether they will take job action.

Teachers across the Saskatchewan spent Feb. 10 and 11 casting a ballot asking whether they would consider job action as their union is unable to reach a deal with the provincial government.

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) said its more than 13,000 members are concerned over contract negotiations with the province and expect around a 90–per–cent voter turnout.

The vote also happens to take place during Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week in Saskatchewan.

READ MORE: STF considers next move after conciliation talks fail with government

One of the main sticking points for the STF is including class size and composition in the contract.

STF’s president expects the votes will be counted by the end of the month and said he intends to discuss the results with the education minister to see if a deal can be struck.

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“(To see if there’s) appetite for coming back to the table with some actual meaningful action around sorting out classroom complexities that we’re seeing. And if not, then we’ll decide next steps at that point,” Patrick Maze said.

He added that job action could take a number of actions — anything from doing nothing to a full-scale strike.

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

Global News reached out to the province for a comment from the education minister, but they declined, referring us to his article in the Regina Leader-Post on Feb. 8.

“While we share the same concerns as the STF that class size and composition is an issue, we believe that it is a matter that is best addressed locally by democratically elected boards of education; we have seen the negative consequences of including this issue in a (collective bargaining agreement) in other provinces and will not replicate those mistakes in our province,” Gordon Wyant’s opinion piece read.

Maze said he would understand taking the issue to local school boards if it was an isolated problem, but noted the issue is province-wide.

READ MORE: B.C. Teachers’ Federation lays out possible job action as talks with province continue

Both sides were in conciliation talks last month and the province said it looks forward to the report from those meetings.

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The government trustee bargaining committee offered a five per cent raise over three years as well as a one-time $1,500 payment funded from the teacher’s health plan.

The teachers’ bargaining committee is looking for an eight per cent raise over three years after teachers went two years without a salary increase.

The latest STF contract expired on Aug. 31, 2019.