Ac­tion could re­sult in fines

Last vote on il­le­gal strike hap­pened in 1995, strike was later avoided

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A lot could hap­pen if the Nova Sco­tia Teach­ers Union holds an il­le­gal strike.

Union pres­i­dent Li­ette Doucet has not in­di­cated what job ac­tion could look like.

While vot­ing on whether to strike is le­gal, job ac­tion for teach­ers is not. Within the terms set by 2015 Teach­ers’ Pro­vin­cial Agree­ment, a col­lec­tive agree­ment between teach­ers and the prov­ince which stands un­til July 31, 2019, strik­ing could mean le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the union, or in­di­vid­ual teach­ers, ac­cord­ing to the prov­ince.

“Teach­ers are very con­cerned about the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion in this prov­ince and are will­ing and pre­pared at this point to take a stand,” Doucet said.

Po­ten­tial fines if yes vote re­sults in strike

A spokesper­son for the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment con­firmed strikes are pro­hib­ited when col­lec­tive agree­ments are in place, as out­lined in the Teach­ers Col­lec­tive Bar­gain­ing Act.

The act states breaches can lead to penal­ties of up to $1,000 per in­di­vid­ual and up to $10,000 for the union. Il­le­gal strike ac­tiv­i­ties could lead to fines of $200 or $300 per day for in­di­vid­u­als, the union, or rep­re­sen­ta­tives, to be de­ter­mined by the labour board.

Doucet said teach­ers are aware of po­ten­tial reper­cus­sions and are will­ing to stand up re­gard­less.

“At this point, we are just ask­ing for a strike man­date. We are not in ne­go­ti­a­tions and are not in a le­gal po­si­tion to strike, how­ever that does not mean we can’t take any ac­tion,” she said prior to the yes vote be­ing cast. She added that the union has sev­eral op­tions for job ac­tion that don’t en­tail a strike with picket signs.

“We could look at a work to rule, a full walk­out, ro­tat­ing strikes, many other op­tions.”

Not the first vote on an il­le­gal strike

The teach­ers’ union cur­rently counts 10,000 ac­tive mem­bers. Doucet has con­firmed the union’s pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive would meet to de­cide whether to pro­ceed with job ac­tion, and what ex­actly that would look like.

This is not the first time the union has voted on an il­le­gal strike. In 1995, the union voted to strike when then- pre­mier John Sav­age’s Lib­eral govern­ment in­tro­duced the Ed­u­ca­tion Hori­zons re­port, which pro­posed to amal­ga­mate the prov­ince’s ex­ist­ing 22 school boards into up to seven re­gional boards.

The union voted to strike and is­sued a strike warn­ing, ul­ti­mately with­draw­ing the mo­tion af­ter bar­gain­ing saw the union and govern­ment reach a con­sen­sus on changes both agreed on.

“This is what can hap­pen when we work to­gether, but this govern­ment doesn’t seem will­ing to do that,” said Doucet.

THE CHRON­I­CLE HER­ALD

Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Zach Churchill

AN­DREW WAGSTAFF

NSTU pres­i­dent Li­ette Doucet

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