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Friday, 20 May 2011 11:43

School closures: Teachers to strike May 25-26

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Following on the heels of the latest failed contract talks with the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation has announced the complete withdrawal of professional and voluntary services by all members provincewide for a 48-hour period beginning at 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, May 25 to 11:59 p.m., Thursday, May 26.

The sanctions planned for next week follow the first provincewide withdrawal of services, which occurred May 5, in 78 years.

In the interim, the two sides in this protracted provincial collective bargaining process met for three days with little, or no, flexibility exhibited by the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee despite the STF providing several options in their attempts to seek an agreement.

“We came back to the bargaining table with the assumption that the government was fully prepared to bring increased resources to the table,” said Gwen Dueck, spokesperson for the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee. “Instead, we heard that the government was prepared to provide teachers with an additional 0.55 per cent increase from their (original) offer of 5.5 per cent over three years.”

According to Dueck, there is an apparent inconsistency when the government speaks of valuing teachers, “but there seems to be little willingness to demonstrate that in the collective agreement process. Instead, teachers are being threatened with layoffs and being attacked for wanting to participate in Saskatchewan’s booming economy.”

Dueck added that in addition to the unwillingness of the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee to bring additional resources to the table, they were also unwilling to agree to a joint application for binding arbitration.

Following the most recent round of talks, Dueck said “regretfully we did not hear or see evidence that gives us any confidence that this government is prepared to bargain in good faith. They demonstrated no flexibility and failed to bring increased resources for us to consider what might become an acceptable collective agreement.

“I can tell you with absolute certainty that these kinds of minor adjustments do not contribute to the development of a collective agreement that would be acceptable to our membership or that would affirm the worth of teachers.”

Dueck emphasized that ultimately this is about public education and students, while adding that “if the government is truly concerned about the educational outcomes of students, they would have settled with teachers at the bargaining table.”

Members of the public are invited to visit the Federation website at for up-to-date information regarding teacher negotiations.

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