‘We want him to hear us’

Teach­ers strike in front of Mcneil’s old high school

Annapolis Valley Register - - EXTRAS - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL ANNAPOLISCOUNTYSPECTATOR.CA BRIDGETOWN lpow­ell@an­napolis­spec­ta­tor.ca

Teach­ers from across An­napo­lis County showed up at Premier Stephen Mcneil’s old high school Feb. 17, but they weren’t there to teach.

“We’re here as a lo­cal to show sup­port for our union,” said Liza Barteaux, pres­i­dent of the An­napo­lis Lo­cal of the Nova Scotia Teach­ers Union.

“We’re in a po­si­tion where our con­tract is be­ing leg­is­lated and we are not happy with that. We would like the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in fair col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and we have yet to ex­pe­ri­ence that so that’s why we’re here to­day.”

She es­ti­mated there were be­tween 75 and 100 teach­ers at the protest in front of Bridgetown Re­gional High School. Other An­napo­lis County teach­ers took part in a sim­i­lar protest in Hal­i­fax.

The teach­ers and sup­port­ers tak­ing part were dressed in heavy win­ter coats, hats, scarves, and mit­tens. The tem­per­a­ture was about -2C. The big snow­plow ridge that still hid the side­walk on the rest of Granville Street had been re­moved in front of the school, al­low­ing the pro­test­ers more room – and al­low­ing traf­fic up and down the street to see the signs. And there were a lot of horns honked in sup­port.

“We’re here from Clarke Rutherford, which is be­low An­napo­lis, all the way up to An­napo­lis East El­e­men­tary in Mid­dle­ton,” Barteaux said. “All grade lev­els, Pri­mary to 12, re­source teach­ers, spe­cialty teach­ers, ev­ery­one who teaches is here.”

Sup­port needed

“I’m here to sup­port my fel­low teach­ers,” said Wendy Rodda, who was stand­ing with her col­leagues. “I’ve been teach­ing for a long time, re­tired, and now I’m sub­bing and I see what they’re go­ing through. I saw it when I was teach­ing. They need a lot of sup­port for the chil­dren in the mid­dle for their aca­demic achieve­ment.”

She said some of con­tract re­quests from teach­ers would not have cost tax­pay­ers any money. “Chil­dren need to at­tend school, chil­dren need dead­lines, and need a dis­ci­pline pol­icy that they can un­der­stand,” Rodda said, re­fer­ring to three of those re­quests.

Many of those at the Feb. 17 strike also marched on Mcneil’s con­stituency of­fice in Mid­dle­ton late last year. Since Dec. 5, teach­ers have taken workto-rule job ac­tion. Teach­ers re­jected three con­tract of­fers – all of which were rec­om­mended by the NSTU ex­ec­u­tive. The last re­jec­tion, Feb. 9, re­sulted in the prov­ince in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion to im­pose a con­tract on teach­ers.

Barteaux said the An­napo­lis Lo­cal de­cided to hold the strike in front of the Bridgetown school partly be­cause it was cen­tral, al­low­ing all teach­ers to travel to one lo­ca­tion. But there was an­other rea­son.

“It’s also the home­town of our premier and we just want him to know that we’re here and that we want him to hear us,” Barteaux said.

Barteaux said teach­ers would con­tinue Fri­day’s strike un­til the last bell rang.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

Al­most 100 teach­ers from across An­napo­lis County con­verged on Bridgetown Re­gional High School early Fri­day morn­ing with picket signs as they took the first strike ac­tion in the his­tory of the Nova Scotia Teach­ers Union. They were protest­ing a leg­is­lated con­tract im­posed on them af­ter three con­tract rat­i­fi­ca­tion votes failed.

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