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With no deal in sight, teachers announce work to rule

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Samantha Becotte confirms work to rule will begin Monday.
Samantha Becotte speaks to reporters at STF media call April 5, announcing work to rule.

SASKATOON - Any hopes of a potential end soon to the labour dispute involving Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation have been dashed with an announcement of work to rule starting on Monday.

STF President Samantha Becotte confirmed the escalation of the STF job action in a media conference Friday afternoon. What it means is that starting on Monday, teachers will start a job action which will restrict their hours of service to 15 minutes before the school day begins and 15 minutes after the school day ends. It also removes all voluntary services provided from teachers, including noon-hour supervision.

Becotte adds this job action will continue indefinitely until the government and the leadership of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association are “ready to make a real commitment and begin negotiations in good faith.”

The news comes with talks between the negotiators for the province and the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation back at a standstill again, after hopes were raised with the possibility of an accountability framework. Becotte had said she had been hopeful that the back-and-forth talking this week might result in an agreement. 

But she said to reporters that the stumbling block involved a request from STF to add a line to the collective agreement with teachers that the parties agree the multiyear funding agreement and accountability framework will be followed and honoured. Becotte said that after a few back and forth discussions they were given a flat out “no” response shortly after noon today. She called it more evidence that the government “doesn’t care about resolving negotiations with teachers.”

“What we were discussing this week is a commitment they will do what they are committing to do. Not a pinky promise deal, not a deal with an escape clause, not an accountability framework that only includes reporting mechanisms but nothing that actually holds people accountable to the decisions that they’re making. One line in an agreement that says that they will follow through on their commitments.”

Becotte added that they “needed a solution that will be around longer than an election year promise, because our kids needs won’t magically disappear. And I have no doubt that is exactly what the Minister of Education has planned for the multi year funding agreement or the accountability framework — for them to magically disappear once the bargaining is over or once the election is over. I know they will walk back on any commitments to either of those two agreements, and then if they weren’t going to, why couldn’t they make the agreement put one line into the collective agreement with teachers.”

Becotte said because of the government’s “intransigence” and their “refusal to negotiate to negotiate with teachers in good faith,” the teachers would be providing work to rule. She added that she “has no doubt we will receive another disingenuous invitation from the GTBC to return to bargaining sometime today.”

“These invitations are completely hollow,” Becotte said.

This afternoon Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill issued this response:

"It is very disappointing that once again the teachers’ union leadership are moving the goal posts and prioritizing job action that will directly impact students and families instead of returning to the bargaining table to reach a fair deal. Government and School Divisions have found solutions to assure increased investment into classrooms, multi-year predictability for those investments, as well as a framework that would allow teachers to provide feedback on how those dollars are spent in their local school division. The teachers’ union leadership’s move to block the opportunity for their own members to have a voice is another example of how this round of bargaining has been more about union control than actual solutions for classrooms.  The teachers’ union leadership has also refused to move from their initial proposals, which includes a 23.4 per cent salary increase.  A fair deal for teachers must also be a fair deal for Saskatchewan taxpayers. The GTBC remains at the table, ready to reach a deal on behalf of students, teachers and families."