The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) announced in a Wednesday release that they will begin further job action on Monday if the province "does not get serious about true negotiations and change course."

Meanwhile, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill said the main issues teachers have been vocalizing - classroom size and complexity - were not up for debate at the bargaining table.

"That's a line in the sand for government that that we're not going to be moving," he said to media Tuesday, while teachers were on a one-day strike across Saskatchewan's public schools.

The STF said they will share details on what job action would look like at least 48 hours before implementation.

"Issues around classroom size, complexity are best dealt with by school divisions," said Cockrill. "Locally elected school divisions, 27 of them all around the province in a diverse range of communities, size, and demographics. And so we think school divisions are best positioned to manage that and again we're going to continue working with school divisions to support them."

"The Minister of Education says that issues like class size and complexity are best dealt with locally," said STF President Samantha Becotte. "We agree, but local boards cannot address these issues when they are dealing with a decade of budget cuts and drastic underfunding from the provincial government."

Cockrill said he also believes the teachers' proposed salary increase is "unreasonable and unfair to Saskatchewan taxpayers."

He has been quoted saying that teachers are looking for a 23.5-per-cent increase over four years.

STF communications manager Lynn Redl-Huntington said the Teachers' Bargaining Committee's opening proposal was for an annual pay increase of 2 per cent, plus the Consumer Price Index average annual rate for Saskatchewan, for each of the next four years. 

Saskatchewan's Consumer Price Index rose by 2.7 per cent from December 2022 to December 2023.

"The teachers bargaining group has made it abundantly clear that there is negotiation room on this opening proposal," said Redl-Huntington. "Teachers have also made it clear that the other nine proposals that government is refusing to bargain on are the priority."

Proposals in addition to class sizes and complexity include violence-free classrooms, teacher professional autonomy, truth and reconciliation, conditions of employment for substitute teachers, and teachers’ salaries.

Cockrill pointed to the province's $3.6-million pilot program to bring supports to eight school divisions as an example of the province working to help educators.

The teachers' union feel that's not enough.

"While this is an interesting start, this is far from a long-term commitment and many questions remain," said Becotte when the program was announced. "We need a commitment from government through negotiations for sustained, long-term funding supports for all students in the province,"