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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 21:00

One-day study session unites teachers for another round of bargaining

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

After spending May 5 together in their respective divisions, Saskatchewan teachers are claiming they are more united than ever.



Teachers across the province struck for one day for a study session to educate all Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) members on the bargaining process.

Although teachers were out of their classrooms and didn’t offer voluntary services for one day, Gwen Dueck, the chief spokesperson for the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee, hopes the teachers’ accomplished the two goals they had for the day.

“One goal was to draw attention to the collective bargaining process and the concerns teachers had towards that,” said Dueck. “The second goal was just to bring teachers together and experience the professional camaraderie as well.

“We hope this drew attention to our bargaining needs from the government and the public. Certainly the second goal was achieved beyond our expectations.”

Neal Boutin, the president of the Chinook Teachers’ Association, agreed with Dueck, as he believes the approximately 500 teachers from the Chinook School Division bonded at their study session.

“Our main focus in our study session was to look at some information for what has been going on surrounding the collective bargaining process over the last year,” he said. “The information we were taking a look at was information for us to work together as a group of committed professionals.

“(Thursday) was a very good day for everyone to share conversations with each other to try to build collegiality and that's pretty much what we did.”

On May 9, the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee offered an invitation to the teachers to return the bargaining table, which the teachers accepted.

“The Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee has been prepared to bargain at any time,” said Sandi Urban-Hall, the government-trustees’ committee spokesperson. “We are pleased that the union has indicated a willingness to join us back at the table.”

Saskatchewan teachers have been without a contract since Aug. 31, 2010. They negotiated with the government for 11 months before going to conciliation with the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee.

The teachers walked away from conciliation after the government offered a 5.5 per cent salary increase over three years. The teachers are asking for a 12 per cent increase over one year. The STF is claiming new teachers with a four-year degree in Saskatchewan earn $7,560 a year less than the Western Canadian average. That average is compiled from teacher salaries from the four western provinces and three territories.

The government, which does not include the territories in its numbers, claims new teachers make more than the national average and the 5.5 per cent increase will give them the third-highest salaries in Canada.

Teachers held a vote April 13 where 95 per cent voted in favour of using sanctions to benefit their bargaining position.


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