Teachers are staging their second one day strike in the current campaign to return to the bargaining table with the provincial government. The strike goes today, Monday, January 22 Teachers from the Horizon School Division and local GSCS schools will be on the streets during the day.
It's an effort to see a return to talks that ceased following a conciliator's report. While the report saw a few avenues for meaningful discussion, the conciliators’ panel concluded that on issues such as class size and composition, the two sides are far apart.
Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill’s contention has been that issues like class size and composition, along with support for special student needs and behaviours, belong at the local level and not part of a provincial contract.
“It looks different in Regina than it does in Creighton or North Battleford or Yorton, so it’s going to require us to work in a very local approach with school divisions,” said Cockrill, responding to the first walkout. “Again, that’s not something we’re going to put in a bargained agreement.”
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation says it’s not as simple as the government promising to engage with school boards in examining student needs if the funding isn’t in place.
“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 in a release. “We cannot solve these issues with more committees or one-off pilot projects in a small fraction of our schools.”
Both sides state they are willing to get back to the table, but neither seems to be prepared to budge on their perceptions of discussion items at the table.
Classes for students across the province are cancelled for today as are all extra-curricular activities.