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Thursday, 26 May 2011 10:31

Government requests to return to table, teachers to withdraw voluntary services starting Monday

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Education Minister Donna Harpauer announced today that the provincial government is prepared to bring additional resources to the table to settle the current labour dispute with the teachers. That’s why the government contacted the STF yesterday inviting them back to the table.

The STF replied by announcing all voluntary services provided by teachers will be withdrawn indefinitely starting May 30.

A withdrawal of voluntary services means teachers will still provide professional services during school hours, but they will not participate in events scheduled outside of the school day. Events scheduled within the school day will continue to occur.

“Teachers do not take this action lightly. They, too, enjoy providing these valuable opportunities for students,” said Gwen Dueck, the spokesperson for the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee. “All the actions taken by teachers, including the upcoming withdrawal of voluntary services, are intended to apply pressure on the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee.”

Saskatchewan teachers are asking for a 16.3 per cent increase in wages over three years. The government has been offering 5.5 per cent over three years.

They have withdrawn all services for May 25 and 26.

Harpauer said in a press release that the government’s offer is worth more than $100 million over three years while the STF’s would be $320 million and unsustainable.

She did not say what resources would be brought to the bargaining table if the STF decides to return to it, but she is hoping to find some middle ground.

“The government is prepared to be flexible to obtain a negotiated settlement, but $320 million is simply unrealistic. Both sides will have to move and that can only happen at the bargaining table,” she said.

Dueck is confident the teachers’ offer will hold up in arbitration, an avenue the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee has put on the table. The government has balked at that offer so far, but Dueck refuses to take it off the table.

“We have presented two solutions to the current dispute,” she said. “We are urging the government to either bring sufficient resources to conclude a fair, reasonable and competitive agreement or agree to enter into binding arbitration.”

There is no official word yet if the teachers will accept the offer to return to the bargaining table.

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