Nova Scotia

Offer to teachers similar to contract they rejected last year

Nova Scotia's teachers are being asked to support a contact offer very similar to the one they rejected last year.

Minor changes include a 'me, too' clause in the event another union gets a better deal

Nova Scotia teachers will vote on a new contract offer on Oct. 4. (iStock)

Nova Scotia's teachers are being asked to support a contract offer from the province very similar to the one they rejected last year.

The province and Nova Scotia Teachers Union announced a tentative agreement earlier this month. It followed eight months of talks after a resounding no vote last year for the previous offer. Last Thursday the union's provincial executive saw the offer for the first time and decided to recommend it to teachers.

The rank and file got their first look on Tuesday, with more meetings set for Wednesday. A vote is scheduled for Oct. 4.

Money offer remains the same

CBC News obtained a copy of the offer from a teacher. The financials of it are the same as the deal rejected last time: a four-year deal starting with a two-year wage freeze, followed by a one per cent increase in the third year, a 1.5-per cent increase in the fourth year and a final 0.5-per cent increase on the day the contract expires in year four of the agreement.

The long-service award will still be frozen for current teachers and no longer offered to new teachers. The offer would see the award paid upon retirement based on a teacher's salary at that point and number of years worked as of July 31, 2015.

One new wrinkle in the offer is a "me, too" clause. If another union were to negotiate a better deal related to the long-service awards, it would then apply to the teachers.

Working-condition changes

Certain elements of the agreement appear to address long-voiced concerns teachers have about working conditions.

The offer includes a mechanism for teachers to report a system, policy or structure creating a significant barrier to carrying out their duties. A working conditions review team would help examine such concerns.

Boards would be required to develop and follow a plan for classroom coverage in situations when an elementary classroom teacher is required to perform provincially mandated or board-mandated student assessments, which require extended one-on-one student-teacher time.

A look at moving 1 or 2 admin days

There will also be a new partnership on systemic working conditions, which would include representatives for the union, department and school board. The purpose would be to study and make recommendations about the systemic demands on teachers' time that might limit their ability to focus on student learning and success.

As part of that partnership, the two sides would also agree to a joint review of the possibility of moving one or two of the annual administrative days in the school year "immediately prior to the preparation of report cards."

With files from Stephanie vanKampen

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