Still no deal

Teach­ers vote to re­ject a third ten­ta­tive agree­ment

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE -

The labour war still rages. Nova Sco­tia’s 9,300 pub­lic school teach­ers have voted to re­ject a third ten­ta­tive agree­ment reached between the Nova Sco­tia Teach­ers Union and the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment since the open­ing of ne­go­ti­a­tions on Sept. 29, 2015.

In a provincewide elec­tronic vote held Thurs­day, union mem­bers voted 78.5 per cent against the ten­ta­tive deal. Sub­sti­tute teach­ers work­ing to­day were el­i­gi­ble to vote, bring­ing the to­tal vote count over 100 per cent.

“Pub­lic school teach­ers have spo­ken once again in re­ject­ing this ten­ta­tive agree­ment, said NSTU pres­i­dent Li­ette Doucet in a news re­lease. “It’s clear our mem­bers are frus­trated, they de­serve bet­ter and what gov­ern­ment of­fered in this agree­ment doesn’t go far enough in ad­dress­ing the real class­room con­cerns that af­fect teach­ers and stu­dents.” Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Karen Casey said the out­come of the vote was dis­ap­point­ing for stu­dents, par­ents and the gov­ern­ment, but she did not in­di­cate how the gov­ern­ment would re­spond.

“This was the third ten­ta­tive agree­ment reached with the union lead­er­ship and it was reached af­ter an in­tense and pro­duc­tive pe­riod of bar­gain­ing,’’ she said in a state­ment.

“This agree­ment pro­vided a fair wage of­fer and showed we were will­ing to make fur­ther in­vest­ments in class­rooms.’’

Casey said the agree­ment con­tained $20 mil­lion to im­prove class­room con­di­tions — a key is­sue in the dis­pute.

As far as next steps, Doucet says: “We do know that our work-to-rule job ac­tion will con­tinue. What we don’t know is what gov­ern­ment’s next move will be. We don’t know if they will agree to go back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble, if they will leg­is­late a con­tract, change the terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment or lock us out.”

The pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive will be meet­ing to dis­cuss any other op­tions avail­able.

The cur­rent teach­ers’ con­tract ex­pired in July, 2015. NSTU mem­bers have been in a le­gal strike po­si­tion since Dec. 5. Union mem­bers had al­ready twice re­jected con­tract agree­ments rec­om­mended by the union ex­ec­u­tive and voted over­whelm­ingly in favour of a strike.

The union be­gan a provincewide work-to-rule cam­paign in early De­cem­ber, dis­rupt­ing many facets of school life, such as shows, trips, school ath­let­ics and other ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties.

The NSTU had backed off on its work-to-rule last month fol­low­ing a ten­ta­tive deal between the gov­ern­ment and the union, but quickly re­in­stated it over Premier Stephen McNeil’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a pro­posed two days off for the teach­ers that had been part of that ten­ta­tive agree­ment.

NDP Leader Gary Bur­rill said the col­lapse of the lat­est ten­ta­tive deal demon­strates that McNeil isn’t lis­ten­ing to the teach­ers.

“This Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is will­ing to sac­ri­fice the ed­u­ca­tion of a gen­er­a­tion and burn out the most qual­i­fied group of teach­ers in the his­tory of the prov­ince to pro­tect their bal­anced bud­get,’’ he said in a state­ment.




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