The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation is bemoaning the fact that a full 63 per cent of Saskatchewan teachers rejected a negotiated proposed Provincial Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2013-2017.
A proposed four year contract was reached last month with the Government of Saskatchewan and school board trustees, but a province wide vote on June 5 dismissed the settlement when only 37 per cent of 13,236 ballots returned were in favour of the tentative agreement.
“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,” STF President Colin Keess stated in a press release. “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 STF notes that teachers continue to be concerned over the uncertainty regarding the future of the school year, school day and workload matters arising from legislative changes made in 2012. They contend finding a resolution to 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 Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) was disappointed that the STF membership has now rejected two negotiated tentative agreements this year.
“It’s discouraging that a second tentative agreement, that all parties worked hard to negotiate, and agreed to, was rejected,” Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee spokesperson Connie Bailey said in a press release. “The increases in this tentative agreement would have ensured teachers maintain a market competitive position within the Western Canadian Average in each year of their four-year agreement.”
The tentative agreement announced in May, included a total compensation increase of 7.3 per cent over four years as well as a $700 pro-rated payment in the first year. This tentative agreement is comparable to the terms reached in other public sector agreements.
“The GTBC will need to do some reflection over the next several weeks,” said Bailey. “It is clear there is a disconnect between the STF Bargaining Committee and its members and we expect the STF will be in contact with us in the coming weeks.”
Saskatchewan teachers have now been without a collective bargaining agreement since Aug. 31, 2013.
“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.”