County teach­ers join first-ever NSTU strike

The Victoria Standard - - LOCAL NEWS - AN­DREW BROOKS

Teach­ers from Bad­deck Academy, Mid­dle River Con­sol­i­dated, Cabot Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre and else­where in the County joined thou­sands of teach­ers across the prov­ince in a one-day strike on Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 17. Some pick­eted out­side their schools while oth­ers trav­eled to Syd­ney and Hal­i­fax for larger events. The move came at the end of a months-long work-torule cam­paign that the Nova Sco­tia Teach­ers Union (NSTU) un­der­went since they en­tered a le­gal strike po­si­tion on De­cem­ber 3, 2016.

Or­lynn Somerville, VP Com­mu­ni­ca­tions NSTU North­side-vic­to­ria Lo­cal and Grade 6/7 teacher at Bad­deck Academy said the strike was a chance to in­form the pub­lic of their mis­sion while let­ting the govern­ment know how dis­ap­pointed teach­ers have been with them.

“They’ve [Mcneil govern­ment] been bul­lies the whole time. There’s been no real ne­go­ti­a­tions. The stu­dents are the ones who lose out. We’re fight­ing for con­di­tions in our schools. We’ve asked for changes in our class­rooms. We’ve asked for more help with our chil­dren. We need so­cial work­ers and psy­chol­o­gists. And they’re just not there for kids who need them.”

Teach­ers sus­pended workto-rule af­ter reach­ing a ten­ta­tive agree­ment in late Jan­uary, only to re­in­state the ac­tion days later when the NSTU and the Mcneil govern­ment ar­gued over the pur­pose of two days listed in the con­tract. Somerville said re­gard­less of their func­tion, the days serve as an ex­am­ple of how the govern­ment wasn’t lis­ten­ing to teach­ers.

“I don’t know any­one who wanted them. No­body. I think it was the govern­ment try­ing to smooth things over. We’re not buy­ing it. Giv­ing us time off is not what we’re ask­ing for.”

If honk­ing horns and thumbs up from driv­ers are any in­di­ca­tion, then lo­cal sup­port for teach­ers ap­pears to be high. At one point, a pickup truck stopped in front of the picket line, rolled the win­dow down and handed the frozen pro­test­ers a round of cof­fee and snacks.

Bar­bara Macdon­ald, Prin­ci­pal of Bad­deck Academy, was some­what re­signed by back to work leg­is­la­tion that was loom­ing the day of the strike. How­ever, she feels the ac­tions of teach­ers were nec­es­sary and im­pact­ful.

“Maybe this won’t get us what we want this year, but it will cer­tainly let the govern­ment and all par­ties know that we’re se­ri­ous about the con­di­tions that have to be looked at, and rec­ti­fied, in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.”

The Lib­eral govern­ment leg­is­lated teach­ers back to work on Fe­bru­ary 21.

Teach­ers (right to left) Or­lynn Somerville, Dori De­laney, Na­dine Palmizi and Mered­ith Mcgrath stand on the picket line out­side Bad­deck Academy on Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 17 dur­ing a one-day strike protest­ing the Mcneil govern­ment's de­ci­sion to leg­is­late them back to work. Photo by An­drew Brooks / The Vic­to­ria Stan­dard.

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