Saskatchewan teachers fight for public education with one-day provincial strike on January 16

PV staff  

In response to government intransigence at the bargaining table, Saskatchewan teachers are launching a one-day strike action across the province on January 16. Their fight is a struggle for public education.

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) says the right-wing government of Scott Moe has refused to negotiate on key issues including class size and complexity. Despite an indication from the province’s Conciliation Board that these issues can be addressed through bargaining, the government has not changed its course.

The union provided five days of notice for the job action – more than double the required 48 hours of notice – to provide families with time to prepare and to allow the government to begin negotiating in good faith.

“The last thing any teacher wants is for negotiations to impact the school year, so we are exhausting every possible option to get government back to the table,” said STF President Samantha Becotte. “At every turn, teachers have said that committees are getting us nowhere on these urgent issues, and a new deal must include items to address class size and complexity. Government remains intransigent, even after conciliation. This is not bargaining; they are making decisions based on politics and student learning is suffering for it.”

At a virtual Parent and Caregiver Information Night on January 14, Becotte provided an update on negotiations, the union’s proposals and the potential for job action. She also discussed the general state of education in Saskatchewan.

Per-student funding in Saskatchewan is the second lowest among provinces in Canada, after being the highest in 2016. Between the 2012-13 school year and the 2020-21 school year, Saskatchewan’s public school funding fell by 10 percent – eight other provinces saw increases during that period, with Alberta being the only other province to show a decrease.

The union says that government cuts and failure to keep up with enrolment growth has created a funding gap of more than $400 million, meaning that’s how much is needed for students today to have the same level of support as a student did in 2016.

The STF has been encouraging teachers, parents and other community members to contact the government and call on it to negotiate a fair deal which protects public education. Thousands have responded in the past three days alone.

Becotte says that there will be additional job action after the January 16 strike, if the government’s intransigence continues.

[Photo: STF X]

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