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Sask. teachers striking again Monday as job action over contract negotiations escalates

Teachers and supporters walk along Albert Street in Regina during the one-day strike organized by the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation last Tuesday. Last week, they announced another one-day strike for Monday.  (CBC/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Teachers and supporters walk along Albert Street in Regina during the one-day strike organized by the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation last Tuesday. Last week, they announced another one-day strike for Monday. (CBC/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Saskatchewan teachers are holding a second one-day strike on Monday, as they say more than six months of contract negotiations with the province have reached a stalemate.

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation says talks over classroom sizes and complexity are at an impasse, while the province says it has offered teachers a "fair deal" and remains ready to bargain.

Monday's strike comes after some 13,000 STF members walked out and picketed across the province last Tuesday, the union's first strike since 2011.

The province and the federation have been negotiating since June. The teachers' collective agreement expired in August. In October, the union members voted 95 per cent in favour of authorizing possible sanctions and job actions.

During a news conference last Wednesday, STF president Samantha Becotte said the union would engage in further job action Monday, which she said at the time could include another walkout, a withdrawal of voluntary services, restricting teachers' hours of work or working to rule.

Becotte has said the union hopes to avoid a full-blown indefinite strike and the disruptions that would cause for students and families, but maintains the province has refused to budge on reducing class sizes or funding supports for students with complex needs.

Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Samantha Becotte speaks with media in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building during the organization's one-day strike on Jan. 16, 2024.
Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Samantha Becotte speaks with media in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building during the organization's one-day strike on Jan. 16, 2024.

Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Samantha Becotte speaks with media in front of the legislative building during the union's one-day strike last week. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

"We need irrefutable commitments and long-term funding, and our best option to hold government accountable is through our collective agreement," she said in a Wednesday news release.

The teachers' federation has accused the province of refusing to talk about salaries until other issues are resolved.

Teachers are also asking for two per cent annual wage increases and to have salaries tied to the consumer price index — a common measure of inflation.

The province, meanwhile, has said the CPI is not a factor in any other collective agreement it has signed, and maintains its offer of a seven per cent raise over three years would keep Saskatchewan teachers' salaries above the western Canadian average.

The Ministry of Education said in a statement last Thursday it is disappointed by the strike announcement, and has said that class size and complexity issues are best addressed at the school division level, not in the collective agreement.

The provincial government-trustee bargaining committee said on Thursday it is "ready to discuss competitive salary and benefits, but cannot negotiate without the STF at the table as well."

Becotte, meanwhile, says the union is ready and willing to keep bargaining.

"We're ready to engage in conversations. We're ready to have a real negotiations process," she said on Wednesday.