The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation has initiated a second five-day countdown toward further job action following a one-day general walkout on Tuesday, January 16. A release from the STF on Wednesday, January 17 indicates that the Government has refused to give its bargaining committee a new mandate to continue talks. The notice also follows Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill’s assertion to the mediate that class size and composition was a “line in the sand” that government would not step away from.
The release notes that the specific nature of the job action, which will begin on Monday, January 22 unless talks resume, be revealed no less than 48 hours prior to it taking effect.
“The Minister of Education says that issues like class size and complexity are best dealt with locally. We agree, but local boards cannot address these issues when they are dealing with a decade of budget cuts and drastic underfunding from the provincial government,” said Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Samantha Becotte. “We cannot solve these issues with more committees or one-off pilot projects in a small fraction of our schools. We need irrefutable commitments and long-term funding, and our best option to hold government accountable is through our collective agreement. The Conciliation Board agrees that these are bargainable items. Yesterday, Canadian Teachers’ Federation President Heidi Yetman shared that many provinces have negotiated class size and complexity articles, so this is not a novel or new idea.”
In addition to the walkout on Tuesday, which saw widespread public support throughout the province, Becotte said that in less than a week, over 11,000 emails have been sent to Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill and Premier Scott Moe, encouraging them to get back to the table and bargain in good faith. She cited over 7,700 people who joined STF’s public rally and mini rallies across the province, and over 3,300 letters that were delivered to the Legislative Building in Regina on Tuesday.
Becotte sent thanks to those supported the teachers on the line, along with the Canadian Teacher’s Federation and other teachers’ organization who chimed in with messages of support.
“We are ready to work together, negotiate and find solutions whenever the government is willing to actually bargain – day or night,” Becotte concluded. “Teachers are taking action for students, and we need our government to do the same.”