Saturday October 25, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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Sask. teachers reject tentative agreement

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Saskatchewan teachers have rejected a proposed tentative Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2013-17 that was reached with the Government of Saskatchewan and school board trustees in May 2014.

The province-wide vote held on June 5, resulted in 63 per cent of teachers deciding against the agreement. A total of 13,236 ballots were returned to the auditing firm that tabulated the vote on behalf of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation.

"We are concerned that the agreement, which in our judgment was the best that could be reached at the bargaining table, was not acceptable to teachers," said STF President Colin Keess. "In conversations, emails and over 50 meetings held across the province, teachers have told us the tentative agreement did not contain sufficient resources, nor provide enough evidence of the government's commitment to re-engaging with teachers and solving the issues of importance to the profession."

The Federation is committed to working with the parties to resolve these matters, and the STF provincial executive will be submitting an immediate application for conciliation as a next step in the continuing process of provincial collective bargaining. At any time, the parties can return to the bargaining table if they believe a negotiated agreement can be reached. Saskatchewan teachers have been without a new provincial collective bargaining agreement since August 31, 2013.

One of the primary concerns of teachers continues to be the uncertainty regarding the future of the school year, school day and workload matters arising from legislative changes made in 2012. Resolution of the issue requires the co-operation of not only the provincial government, but also school boards that have the responsibility for setting and approving school calendars.

The growing diversity in Saskatchewan classrooms, issues of class composition and size, and the rapid pace of change to curriculum, student assessment and other educational initiatives with limited teacher engagement have all contributed to teachers' workload intensification.

"The government and employing boards of education have significant work to do to address the concerns that teachers have expressed during the last month," said STF Executive Director Gwen Dueck. "Teachers' workloads have been untenable for some time, and they have yet to see tangible improvements in their work life despite more recent agreements and commitments. Their continuing frustration is evident in the rejection of this tentative agreement."


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