The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation confirmed Thursday afternoon their job action that will take place on Monday will be another provincewide one-day strike. This comes after a one-day strike took place throughout Saskatchewan on Tuesday, and a five-day notice of further job action was issued Wednesday.
“The day after our first strike action, rather than acknowledging the outstanding efforts of teachers, the Minister (of Education) attempted to make it all about salary demands. If he had been paying attention, he’d know our job action was about so much more than that,” said Samantha Becotte, president of the STF. “We’re seeking long-term commitments from government on critical issues impacting students, including class size and complexity – not patchwork pilot projects that don’t fix the systemic issues in our schools.”
The STF and the Saskatchewan government have been at an impasse on contract negotiations since October. It was after the impasse was declared 95 percent of the membership of the federation voted in favour of job sanctions, pending the outcome of conciliation meetings. Heading into the conciliation meetings, the federation stated the province was refusing to discuss nine of the ten things they wanted to have included in the new collective agreement.
Speaking to the media Tuesday during the one-day strike by teachers, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill stated they would not budge on the issue of classroom complexity and class size, adding the government’s position is that those issues should be dealt with at the division level as opposed to the provincial level. He also said the STF was asking for a 23.5 percent wage increase.
In a press conference held Thursday, Becotte wondered where the 23.5 percent number had come from.
“Our salary proposal is 2 percent per year plus an adjustment for cost of living, or CPI,” Becotte explained. “CPI is unknown. We don’t know what it’s going to be in future years, and we’re hopeful that it’s low because everyone is impacted by inflationary increases.
The strike on Tuesday was just the third time since 1933, and the second time since the creation of the STF, that teachers in Saskatchewan had gone on a province-wide strike. The last time was in 2011.