Teach­ers’ con­tract talks back on as prov­ince fills board va­can­cies

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - MOR­GAN MODJESKI

The pres­i­dent of the Saskatchewan Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion (STF) says the or­ga­ni­za­tion is anx­ious to get back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble after a short sus­pen­sion in con­tract talks be­tween teach­ers, school boards and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

On Wednesday morn­ing, the STF, which rep­re­sents about 13,000 teach­ers in the prov­ince, an­nounced it would sus­pend ne­go­ti­a­tions be­cause the gov­ern­ment had failed to ap­point any of its mem­bers to the Ed­u­ca­tional Re­la­tions Board, the body that over­sees the im­ple­men­ta­tion of col­lec­tive agree­ments in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

The board is sup­posed to be made up of two teach­ers nom­i­nated by the STF and two mem­bers rep­re­sent­ing school boards, as well as a chair­per­son nom­i­nated by the ma­jor­ity of board mem­bers. All board spots re­mained va­cant on Wednesday morn­ing due to a lack of ap­point­ments, al­though the STF pro­vided its se­lec­tions months ago.

STF pres­i­dent Pa­trick Maze said the or­ga­ni­za­tion sus­pended talks in an ef­fort to get the gov­ern­ment to take ac­tion on the ap­point­ments. Later on Wednesday, he said the STF is “ex­cited that we can get back to bar­gain­ing.”

A state­ment from Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Bronwyn Eyre said the ap­point­ments were made fol­low­ing a cab­i­net meet­ing on Wednesday, just hours after the STF an­nounced it would walk away from ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Maze said he spoke to Eyre on Wednesday af­ter­noon and felt the gov­ern­ment came to the right con­clu­sion in mak­ing the ap­point­ments. He said he ex­pects ne­go­ti­a­tions will con­tinue “in the very near fu­ture.”

“I don’t think it’s tar­nished the rep­u­ta­tion or the re­la­tion­ship at all,” he said. “It’s im­por­tant that both sides be as­sertive when nec­es­sary, and that’s part of any re­la­tion­ship. At times, one party has to ex­ert them­selves a lit­tle bit more and make sure that they’re be­ing heard.”

At the same time, the STF, Saskatchewan’s school boards and the min­istry are “part­ners in ed­u­ca­tion” and want what’s best for stu­dents, he said.

A court or­der filed at Saska­toon’s Court of Queen Bench that would have com­pelled the gov­ern­ment to make the ap­point­ments will also be with­drawn, Maze said.

In the state­ment sent to me­dia, Eyre thanked the Saskatchewan School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion and the STF for their “pa­tience and un­der­stand­ing dur­ing this process.”

The state­ment noted the gov­ern­ment “looks for­ward to work­ing with the our part­ners in the fu­ture.”

Saskatchewan teach­ers’ col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment ex­pired Aug. 31.

Con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions are con­fi­den­tial.

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