Teachers working to rule starting today

April 8, 2024, 11:15 am
Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


As talks between the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation and the provincial government continue to be at loggerheads, teachers across the province are instructed to do the bare minimum. That was the message from the STF late last week, stemming from the refusal of one line not being included in a collective bargaining agreement.

“This week, we had requested that one line be added to the collective agreement with teachers,” said STF president Samantha Becotte in a news conference last Friday afternoon. “And that line was that ‘the parties agree that the multi-year funding agreement and the accountability framework will be followed and honoured.’ Sounds pretty simple. That was it.”

Including that one line would in effect guarantee $356.6 million in annual funding to address the STF’s main sticking points of classroom size and complexity. The dollar amount is a significant increase, some $45 million from last year’s budget, and the funding was part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the provincial government and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association.

“Just do what you say you’re committing to do, and if government’s words were true, and that they’re committed to carrying out the NFA and the MOU, then there should be no concern with adding this one line to the agreement with teachers.”

Starting April 8, work to rule job action will ensue with a sanction restricting services offered by teachers. Becotte explained that teachers will start work 15 minutes before the school day begins and conclude 15 minutes after the school days ends. All voluntary services provided by teachers—including noon-hour supervision—will be removed.

“We aren’t going back to the table to stare at each other,” Becotte said. “The GTBC (Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee) has no mandate to negotiate on the issues that are a priority to teachers. These invitations are completely hollow.”

Action will “continue indefinitely until the government and leadership of the SSBA are ready to make a real commitment and begin negotiations in good faith,” said Becotte of the ultimatum. Teachers will continue to instruct students during the school day, but restrictions will be placed on voluntary services and the hours that they work.

“We’ll be sharing our communication with the boards of education and across the province and divisions and they’ll communicate with the parents in terms of how that is going to look in each of the different divisions across Saskatchewan and how students and families may be impacted by this withdrawal of service,” Becote explained.

Teachers across the province have been without a contract since last August, and the STF began bargaining with the province back in May, 2023. Contract talks broke down last October when the STF declared an impasse, with strikes and sanctions starting back in January. Despite the government releasing details about the education budget prior to the official budget day—boasting a record amount of spending on education—the STF held ground on their want of funding promises baked into the contract for fear of those dollars not coming to fruition.

“I didn’t want it to come to this point,” she remarked. “No one that is part of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation—whether it is our members and teachers across this province, or our staff—wanted it to get to this point.”

Becotte said job action will continue until the province addresses issues of classroom size and complexity.