Some teachers in the province will once again be on the picket lines while all will be withholding noon hour supervision duties this Friday.  

 The move follows an announcement by the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation that talks between the STF and the Government broke off late Tuesday. There is contention as to who walked away from the table based on statements from the STF and from Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill. 

Friday’s return to rotating walkouts affects schools in the Battlefords and Prince Albert areas, including Ecole St. Isadore de Bellevue. All schools in the province will take part in the noon hour services withdrawal.  

STF President Samantha Becotte indicated that the Government Trustee Bargaining team pushed back a Tuesday negotiation start time of 5:30 pm before cancelling it all together.  

 A major sticking point is the classroom size and complexity issue. In her statement, Becotte noted, the government has proposed a solution that would be discussed outside the scope of bargaining.  

“Although government now openly acknowledges that there are complexity concerns in schools, it refuses to make long-term commitments where it can be held accountable,” says Becotte. “Several other provinces – Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and B.C. – have language around class size and complexity in their collective agreements with teachers. This government has already included patient complexity and an innovation fund as part of its new agreement with the province’s doctors. Government has shown it can and will address these matters in contracts when it chooses.” 

Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill wasted little time taking to social media, spinning the situation with the government’s perspective and characterizing the situation as STF negotiators initiating the walkout. 

“We are disappointed to hear that the teacher’s union has once again walked away from the bargaining table,” Cockrill delivered in an address on his Facebook page. “The Government Trustee Bargaining Committee was ready to offer a fair deal, but the teacher’s union chose to walk away after 30 minutes.” 

Becotte painted a different picture.  

“The Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee promised a renewed mandate when it came back to the bargaining table, but it was readily apparent that the mandate was extremely limited. They immediately began stalling tactics that undermined good faith negotiations. Instead of beginning Monday morning, the GTBC delayed until Monday afternoon, then pushed Tuesday’s start to 5:30 p.m., before eventually cancelling altogether. The GTBC promised a renewed mandate when it came back to the bargaining table, but it is unable to negotiate without directly consulting the Minister of Education.” 

The week long February school break will provide a brief respite, but Becotte states that job action will resume immediately following the break unless talks can resume.