Approximately 500 Moose Jaw teachers are picketing along Thatcher Drive for a third time today as part of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation’s (STF) rotating strikes.
Kent Clegg, vice president with the Prairie South Teachers’ Association, said there doesn’t seem to be any movement in negotiations with the provincial government. “We’re hoping that by continuing to show that we are serious about what we are hoping for, that we will get them back to the table and get them to talk about the issues, and hopefully realize or understand that we do need a sustainable funding model that helps school divisions get the funding into the classrooms where it needs to be.”
Clegg was asked about class size and complexity, which is one of the key issues under negotiation. “The complexity issue lends to the classroom size in a sense, because there are so many kids with so many different needs. There are some kids who might have issues with academic needs, some that might have behavioural needs, some that might have some other needs that we just can’t address in the classroom appropriately or properly.”
“We need to have some trained professionals who are in the school and willing to help and able to help by giving the kids what they need in order to be successful in the classroom,” said Clegg.
Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill has previously stated that classroom size and complexity should be dealt with by the local school divisions.
In a news conference on Monday, Samantha Becotte, STF president commented on class complexity. “Not only do many provincial teacher organizations across Canada have items on class complexity in their collective agreements – several conciliators and mediators have reported that these items can be bargained in Saskatchewan.”
We asked the Ministry of Education for a comment on the third day of strikes, and they provided the following statement:
The Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee has put forward a fair, initial offer for teachers with a 7 per cent raise over three years, ensuring Saskatchewan teachers remain paid above the Western Canadian Average.
Outside of the collective bargaining process, the Government of Saskatchewan have said we are actively working to address concerns around class size and complexity and we are doing exactly what we said we would with a $53.1 million investment towards enrolment and complexity, a teacher-led innovation and support fund, and specialized support classroom pilot projects.
A fair deal for teachers must also be a fair deal for taxpayers. Saskatchewan taxpayers already contribute the most per capita to education in the country and right now the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation is asking for a salary increase of 2 per cent plus the Consumer Price Index each and every year, for four years. That amounts to a 23.4% increase.
We also know that affordability is top of mind for families right now, which is why a fair deal for teachers must also be a fair deal for taxpayers.
The GTBC remains at the table, ready to discuss competitive salary and benefits but cannot negotiate without the STF at the table as well.