Teachers blast province on social media ahead of another rotating strike

Prince Albert teachers hold up signs and wave to passing drivers as the first day of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation rotating strike hit Prince Albert on Feb. 1, 2024. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Prince Albert teachers took to social media in frustration, while the head of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation blasted the provincial government during a press conference in the lead-up to another day of rotating strikes.

Prince Albert and area teachers will be in Shellbrook on Friday to protest at Premier Scott Moe’s constituency office after talks between the STF and Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC). During a press conference on Wednesday, STF President Samantha Becotte said she was disappointed with recent comments from Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill.

“It just goes to show the level of disrespect this government continues to show teachers, and the lengths that this government is going to mislead the public about the realities of what the process looks like,” Becotte told reporters. “I would love to be at the table having meaningful conversations about finding solutions to the challenges that students and teachers are facing in classrooms in all areas of this province. Unfortunately, I’m spending more of my days sharing the realities of the situation within bargaining, and showing the misinformation that this minister continues to share.”

Saskatchewan teachers took to social media following Cockrill’s announcement on Tuesday that talks had broken down.

The list included former STF president and current STF negotiating team member Patrick Maze, who wrote that teachers were more than willing to listen.

“I was at the table. STF was there,” Maze wrote to Moe. “We cleared two full days to negotiate in good faith. Your team didn’t even enter the building today. Yesterday (Monday) they wouldn’t start until 1 p.m., and then they had no ability to negotiate.”

Prince Albert teachers also took to social media to vent their frustrations. Current St. Mary High School principal Dwayne Gareau accused the province of trying to spin the issue, writing that there is a middle ground if the GTBC was willing to meet with the STF.

Current St. Michael Community School principal Mark Phaneuf also blasted Cockrill’s response, writing that the minister provided “more rhetoric and no substance.” Phaneuf added that the province deserves better.

Saskatchewan NPD leader Carla Beck also urged Cockrill to get back to the bargaining table. During a press conference on Wednesday, Beck said the minster “spent more time making Twitter videos than he has at the bargaining table.”

Cockrill held his own press conference on Wednesday, arguing the province showed up to bargain on Tuesday at 1 p.m., but was the only group left in the room by 1:30 p.m. The STF said they received notice the negotiations were over at around 3 p.m.

Cockrill told reporters he was disappointed with how negotiations went, but remained resolute that the province was negotiating in good faith.

The Daily Herald attempted to contact Prince Albert and Area Teachers Association (PAATA) president Jean-Marc Belliveau for this story, but did not hear back by press time.

–with files from Alec Salloum/Regina Leader-Post