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STF president says Sask. needs to use agreements in other provinces as example when bargaining

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Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) president Samantha Becotte says the province needs to look at other regions of Canada and use them as examples when it comes to bargaining at home.

The two sides remain at odds over whether or not classroom size and complexity issues should be discussed at the bargaining table.

On Tuesday, the STF received public support from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association.

All three organizations have lobbied governments to include similar provisions in their agreements.

“It shines a light on the reality that these items can be bargained despite our government’s refusal to address classroom size and complexity in our collective agreement, other provinces have done it,” Becotte told CTV Morning Live.

According to Becotte, the STF is not looking for something “revolutionary” but rather something they feel should be a standard in provincial agreements for all teaching organizations across Canada.

In recent weeks both sides have accused one another of refusing to return to or failing to show up to the bargaining table at all.

On Tuesday, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill took to social media to post a picture of an empty table, claiming that the province was ready to sit down and talk but that STF representatives were nowhere to be found.

“Our team is ready to bargain,” Cockrill said in his post on X. “Teachers and students should be in the classroom. The teachers’ union should be at the bargaining table,” he added.

Cockrill also said the province has been informed by teachers that more job action can be expected next week when students return to the classroom following their February break this week.

Becotte however said she remains optimistic that the two sides will be able to bring the two issues to the table.

“We have always said that this was going to be a difficult challenge and we’ve brought it forward in collective bargaining over the last two rounds and the government refused to put it into a collective agreement,” Becotte said.

While the province has said that it firmly believes classroom size and complexity issues should not be a part of the bargaining process, it has also claimed that through funding and the announcement of new initiatives and pilot projects – those very two concerns are being taken care of.

“We have a right to negotiate these two items and we’re going to continue to stand up for teachers and stand up for students to ensure that their learning conditions and teachers’ working conditions improve,” Becotte said.

Teachers’ next round of job action has yet to be announced, despite the province saying they are aware that more walkouts are possible next week.

Saskatchewan’s teachers' last contract expired in August 2023. Initial bargaining began in May of 2023 with the STF declaring impasses in October and again in February.

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