‘We want him to hear us’
Teachers strike in front of Mcneil’s old high school
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.”
“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.
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.