Skip to content

Cockrill calls latest teachers’ job action news disappointing

Education minister reacts after Sask. Teachers Federation launches second round of rotating strikes, withdrawal of noon hour supervision this week
Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill speaks on latest STF job action announcement Feb. 5.

REGINA - It was the expected reaction of disappointment from Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill to the latest announcement of more job action this week by Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. 

Earlier on Monday, the union announced the province-wide withdrawal of noon hour supervision on Thursday, just a day after a scheduled second round of rotating strikes by STF members in various locations in the province.

“Every one of these announcements has been disappointing,” said Cockrill to reporters at the legislature Monday.

“For me,I know it affects students and families at the end of the day. So it’s not where we’d like the situation to be. We’d like to have a willing partner at the bargaining table. We’re hopeful at some point that union leadership returns to the bargaining table to get a deal done, that’s really going to provide some predictability over the next several years.”

Both the bargaining committee and the STF have been at impasse for weeks over issues such as classroom size and complexity. STF has demanded this be part of the collective bargaining but which the province continues to insist should not be part of the negotiations and left to school division. 

One stumbling block that the union has pointed to is that the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee has not received a renewed mandate to negotiate with teachers. In response to a question on whether there is any possibility of going back to the bargaining table with that renewed mandate, Cockrill had this to say:

“I think discussions around a new mandate — the GTBC operates on directions from government, so certainly within the Ministry of Education, we’re having those discussions. We have been clear on items that we don’t think is bargainable, but there are several items that we’re having discussions internally on… Again, any renewed mandate, we require both sides to be at the bargaining table. Certainly we’re looking on our end in terms of what’s reasonable. I hope the Teacher’s Federation is doing the same thing on their side. Any deal is going to take two parties to get it done.”

When Cockrill was asked when was the last time he directly had conversations with STF President Samantha Becotte, Cockrill said it was Jan. 11 when they first announced their sanctions. 

He did point to the government’s movement on the classroom complexity issue to provide funds to a pilot project in eight school divisions. Cockrill indicated they would be soon publicly announcing which schools these pilots would be taking place. 

“We’re just working on finalizing the school divisions’ plans,” said Cockrill, noting the plans are different depending on the school division. 

“How these issues around classroom complexity will be addressed is going to vary from school division to school division. So we have specialized support classroom pilot new money over the next year and a half, we also have teacher innovation support fund, $2.5 million over the next year and a half. We’ve received close to 50 applications directly from teachers for that pilot project, I know I’m reviewing the first batch of applications over the next several weeks, and again looking toward to finding ideas directly brought forward from teachers in this province in terms of how we address and deal with issues right across classroom complexity.”