Prince Albert part of STF job action on Friday

Daily Herald File Photo STF President Samantha Becotte

After gradually announcing various rotating strikes around the province over the weekend, the Prince Albert area will now be part of another job action by the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF).

On Tuesday, the STF gave notice of a one-day withdrawal of noon-hour supervision that

will take place on Friday, March 1 at locations throughout the province. This includes all teachers in the Prince Albert Area Teachers Association (PAATA) and all schools in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division and the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division.

By law, 48 hours’ notice is required for job action. STF president Samantha Becotte said they want to give families extra time to make arrangements.

“I just want to reiterate that this isn’t how bargaining should be, but government is refusing to come to the table in good faith,” Becotte said during a press conference on Tuesday. “We would love to be there negotiating on the priorities that impact students and teachers instead of being out on picket lines or sending advocacy emails to governments. Teachers want to be supporting their students.”

Becotte reiterated that all options remain open as teachers try to get government back to the table.

“That is our goal,” she said. “It’s not our goal to have additional sanction action. Teachers don’t want to be taking these actions. We want to have an agreement.”

Becotte argued the STF the provincial government hasn’t addressed key concerns like classroom complexity. She said issue has been on the Federation’s radar for many years.

“We have been talking about the impacts of government underfunding for a significant amount of time,” she said. “Even before the contract negotiations started in 2019, we had negotiated or attempted to negotiate items around cost, complexity and class size during the 2017 round of negotiations as well.”

Becotte said the GTBC either didn’t have enough information or didn’t see those issues as significant problems during the 2020 negotiations. However, she said there are positives.

“We have made some movement forward where the Minister is now saying that he recognizes that class complexity is an issue, that they need to address,” Becotte said.

She said it’s frustrating that it has taken seven years the government and the SSBA to recognize it’s an issue.

She reiterated a point from Monday’s press conference that there is a generation of students who have seen reduced funding and fewer supports.

“We need to see improvements and we need that long term meaningful commitments by government in the collective agreements so that teachers can hold them accountable to those commitments.”

Becotte said that the only item of the 10 on the table that the government has made moves on one.

“We had put forward a proposal around benefits that are provided to teachers who go on maternity leave and so they moved on that item,” Becotte said.

Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill said the government is willing to annualize $53.1 million in funding to “provide assurances between the parties” that, outside of bargaining, the government “will commit to annualized funding to address class size and composition,” through a memorandum of understanding.

Other schools involved include the association des enseignantes et enseignants fransaskois including schools in Conseil des écoles fransaskoises (including Ecole Valois in Prince Albert, Good Spirit Teachers’ Association including all schools in Good Spirit School Division, Holy Family Teachers’ Association including all schools in Holy Family Catholic School Division and the Horizon Teachers’ Association including all schools in Horizon School Division.

Both the Prince Albert Catholic School Division and Saskatchewan Rivers School Division have notified parents about the upcoming job action.
On top of job action already planned for Monday through Wednesday, teachers in the Chinook Teachers’ Association, Creighton Teachers’ Association, Lloydminster Teachers’ Association, North East Teachers’ Association and Prairie Spirit Teachers’ Association will withdraw noon-hour supervision on Thursday.

Over the weekend, the STF announced further job action including a rotating strike, and rotating withdrawal of noon-hour supervision and extracurricular activities to take place at select schools on Tuesday.

The rotating strikes impacts all schools in the Chinook School Division, Ile à la Crosse School Division, Lloydminster Public School Division, Lloydminster Catholic School Division, Northwest School Division and Prairie Valley School Division. It also involves teachers from Association des enseignantes et enseignants fransaskois — École Boréale in Ponteix and Saskatchewan Distance Learning Centre’s North West and South West campuses.

The rotating withdraw of noon hour supervision affects all schools in the Holy Trinity Catholic School Division, Horizon School Division, North East School Division, Regina Catholics Schools and South East Cornerstone School Division.

Extracurricular activities will be withdrawn at all schools in the Creighton School Division, Horizon School Division, Prairie South School Division, Regina Catholic Schools and Regina Public Schools.

On Sunday, the STF also announced the withdraw of noon hour supervision and the withdraw of extracurricular activities at select schools on Wednesday.

The withdraw of noon-hour supervision will affect schools in Christ the Teacher Catholic School Division, Ile à la Crosse School Division, Prairie Valley School Division, Regina Public Schools and Sun West School Division.

Withdrawal of extracurricular activities on Wednesday will affect schools in Ile à la Crosse School Division, Prairie Valley School Division, Good Spirit School Division, all Saskatchewan Distance Learning Centre campuses, and Living Sky School Division and Light of Christ Catholic School Division and Sakewew High School.

Becotte said that the STF’s Monday evening information session saw over 700 parents join the session.

“There were many good questions about the actions we have taken along the way, as well as several comments of support and engagement and even a couple of comments from parents asking us to ramp things up to get the support that their kids deserve and need,” she said.

Ministry of Education emailed at statement to the Daily Herald on Monday saying the Government Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) extended invitations every day last week to the STF to come back to the bargaining table where negotiators had been waiting and were ready to engage in meaningful discussion.

“It’s unfortunate that the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) senior leadership continues to choose job action over getting a deal done on behalf of teachers, students and families,” the message reads.

The government says it has moved on a number of items that the STF asked for, including a renewed salary mandate and workplace safety enhancements. The STF has refused to move off their initial proposals, including a 23.4 per cent salary increase.

They added that since October, the STF has been at the bargaining table for a total of 30 minutes.

Teachers and students should be in the classroom, and the teachers’ union should be at the bargaining table, the Ministry concluded.