Home » More Than 13,000 Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Members Brave the Cold on January 16th to Send a Message to the Government

More Than 13,000 Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Members Brave the Cold on January 16th to Send a Message to the Government

by Shanine Sealey

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) held a one-day, province wide strike on Tuesday, January 16th, with more than 13,000 members taking part in 40 locations.

The strike was announced on January 11th, providing a five-day countdown for the strike, and follows seven months of stalled bargaining between the STF and the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee. The legal requirement for notice of job action is 48 hours; however, according to the STF, members wanted to give advanced notice to families in order to have additional time to prepare. STF noted in a January 11th news release that the five-day notice was also an opportunity for the government to change course and return to the bargaining table.

“Even when given five days’ notice, the Government of Saskatchewan failed to return to the table to bargain on critical issues for teachers, parents and students,” The STF stated in a January 16th news release. “Today, teachers have gathered at demonstration sites in communities across Saskatchewan, demanding government return to the bargaining table to discuss working and learning conditions in publicly funded schools.”

On January 16th, STF President Samantha Becotte, along with Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) President Heidi Yetman, hand-delivered 3,300 letters written by teachers and parents from around the province, to the legislative offices of Premier Scott Moe and Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill. The letters included issues that the STF have cited as “critical”, which include topics such as classroom complexity, growing class sizes and ensuring that students receive the required supports, as well as what the government can do to address these issues.

Schools throughout the province were closed, with all programming cancelled on Tuesday, January 16th due to the strike. Parents were asked to ensure alternate arrangements were made for their children for the day.

A statement from Prairie Spirit School Division Director of Education Tracey Young released on January 11th said that, “At this time, we do not have any information about any further teacher job action. Future job action could take various forms, including: withdrawal of supervision of extra-curricular activities, withdrawal of noon-hour supervision, half-day/full-day strikes, rotating strikes or a general strike.” Young added that teacher job action would have varying impacts on school operations, which could include the possibility of closing schools to students again in the future.

“It is extremely unfortunate that government has pushed this issue to the point that it is now impacting schools. This is the very last thing any teacher wants to do. Teachers and supporters throughout the province are braving the cold today to advocate for their students and ensure they get the resources they desperately need. This government simply cannot continue to ignore these growing concerns,” STF President Samantha Becotte stated.

Becotte also noted that including classroom composition improves learning conditions for students. “This is why teachers in Saskatchewan are out on the streets today, to make sure that every student in this province gets the education they deserve. An education that will prepare them for the modern world.”

Since the announcement of the countdown to job action on January 11th, there have been over 9,400 emails sent to Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill and Premier Scott Moe from STF supporters through the ‘Tell Them Tuesday’ campaign (www.tellthemtuesday.com) urging the government to return to the bargaining table.

“It astounds me that the Government of Saskatchewan refuses to negotiate workload and class complexity. Collective agreements across this country include language on workload, class sizes and class composition, and yet, the collective agreement in this province contains no such language. This is unacceptable,” CTF President Heidi Yetman said.

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