Unionized public school teachers in Nova Scotia will begin work-to-rule job action next week after contract talks with the province collapsed on Friday.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union announced Monday that beginning Dec. 5, its 9,300 teachers will only do the minimum amount of work required by their contract. Teachers will continue to teach and prepare lessons. 

"This action will demonstrate the scope of activities that teachers do for students that go above and beyond, and those that prevent them from directly teaching students," the union said in a statement.

Work-to-rule

The union says work-to-rule means:  

  • Teachers will arrive 20 minutes before school and leave 20 minutes after. 
  • Teachers will not perform clerical duties or perform data-entry tasks. Attendance will be monitored on paper.
  • Extracurricular activities such as concerts, team coaching and clubs will stop. 
  • Field trips will not go ahead.

"We know that there are many teachers who do extracurricular activities. It's been a part of everybody's teaching job for as long as I can remember," said Education Minister Karen Casey.

"You always did those things as a teacher, so we'll have to see what it looks like when they work to the letter of the contract."

Karen Casey

Education Minister Karen Casey said many teachers help out with extracurricular activities. 'We'll have to see what it looks like when they work to the letter of the contract.' (CBC)

The union and the provincial government were in conciliation talks last week in an effort to reach a contract agreement, but negotiations broke down Friday.

Casey called on the union to resume discussions.

"The union have to be at the table to have those conversations with us," she said.

Union president Liette Doucet told reporters Monday that work-to-rule is a way of taking action while at the same time showing teachers are committed to returning to the bargaining table.

"It was not a decision that was lightly made. It was a very difficult decision," she said.

Liette Doucet

Union president Liette Doucet told reporters on Monday that work-to-rule is a way of taking action while showing that teachers remain committed to getting back to the bargaining table. (CBC)

Doucet said the union hopes and expects parents will remain supportive of teachers during the contract dispute. The work-to-rule was announced a week ahead of time, she said, so parents can prepare for the effects of the job action.

The teachers' current contract expired in July 2015. The government and union leaders have twice reached tentative agreements, but teachers have voted them down.

The union said it still hopes a deal with government can be reached and job action will be avoided.

Nova Scotia student

Work-to-rule means teachers will perform the minimum amount of work required by their contract. (CBC)