The work-to-rule campaign by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation will be suspended as of 11:59 p.m. tonight, as the STF and Government Trustee Bargaining Committee resume negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. The negotiations are expected to start on Tuesday.  

“We have been assured that the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee has a new mandate to properly address all of the issues important to teachers. The Teachers’ Bargaining Committee believes this commitment by government is a positive step,” said STF President Samantha Becotte. “Teachers have maintained that accountability measures must accompany government funding in order to ensure resources go to support students and improve their learning experience. We are optimistic that this understanding represents a significant step forward in negotiations and brings a tentative agreement within reach.” 

In a media availability held shortly after the release was issued, Becotte clarified the situation, stating the concerns about the memorandum of understanding extended to the STF, as well as the language in the collective agreement concerning the multi-year funding agreement signed by the provincial government and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, were being addressed.  

“We have talked about the need for them to be put into the contract, and as I said, our concerns have been addressed, and so we’re still working out specific details of what that language is going to be, exactly, but we’re happy with a commitment that the Ministry of Education has made.” 

The two sides have been at an impasse since October, and the STF initiated job action in January, beginning with a one-day walkout. Since then, there have been rotating strikes, a rotating withdrawal of lunch-hour supervision, and then a general work-to-rule campaign throughout the province.  

The labour dispute has been acrimonious at times, with the province accusing the STF of moving the goalposts on what they wanted to see included in the agreement, and the STF accusing the government of refusing to bargain in good faith and trying to reach backroom deals to circumvent the process.  

“There has been an ongoing dispute and with that, that strains relationships,” Becotte said of the process. “I do think that there’s a recognition that we need to refocus on finding those solutions and working together to find those solutions for everyone.” 

Becotte also thanked Jeremy Cockrill, the Minister of Education, for his recognition of the challenges students and teachers face in the K-12 education system, and for his commitment to start the work on improving conditions in classrooms throughout the province.  

The key sticking point during the negotiations has been surrounding class size and complexity. The STF has called for language concerning sustained funding to school divisions for these issues to be included in the agreement. The provincial government has been adamant the concerns would not be included in any agreement with the STF, as those issues are for school divisions to resolve.