Saskatoon

STF accuses government of disrespecting bargaining process after offer details sent directly to teachers

On Wednesday, teachers were sent a letter from the government-trustee bargaining committee detailing the government’s latest offer.

Sask. Teachers' Federation says fact government skipped bargaining table with offer 'a bit insulting'

STF president Patrick Maze says the government admits there is a problem but refuses to address it. (Alexis Lalament/CBC News)

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation is accusing the provincial government of circumventing the proper bargaining process after details of the province's latest contract offer were sent directly to teachers.

On Wednesday, teachers got a letter from the government-trustee bargaining committee, delivered through school boards, detailing the government's latest offer.

Patrick Maze, president of the STF, said the government is not respecting the negotiation process.

"It's not bargaining in good faith," Maze said, adding 90.2 per cent of teachers across the province voted in favour of sanctions.

"For the government to think it can slide a letter through the employer, through the directors of education directly to members, is a bit insulting."

Maze said he feels the province's move will "backfire" by showing teachers what the STF's bargaining representatives have been offered and what they feel is missing.

"There's still no commitment to addressing class composition in the province," Maze said.

Class composition has been a major point for educators.

Education Minister Gordon Wyant speaks with reporters about a meeting between his ministry, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association on Tuesday morning, Feb. 25, 2020. The meeting came one day after the teachers voted in favour of taking job action. (CBC News)

Sanctions currently in place by teachers include withholding voluntary or extracurricular work, and reductions in before- and after-school supervision across the province.

Earlier this week, Education Minister Gordon Wyant accused the teachers federation of "walking away" from the province's students, claiming they did the same for negotiations in 2019 and conciliation earlier this year.

The STF argues the government's offer to teachers is unacceptable.

However, Minister Wyant said there was no ill intent behind sending the offer directly to teachers. CBC Saskatoon requested an interview with the education minister to discuss the teacher's concerns, but a statement was provided instead. 

"I made the decision to provide the most recent mandate to the STF membership and public," Wyant said in the statement.

"This was not shared in bad faith — it has been the STF's position since Day 1 of discussions that bargaining updates remain public. In fact, the STF chose to release their bargaining proposal even in advance of the first meeting last year." 

Minister Wyant said the government-trustee bargaining committee has invited the teacher bargaining committee back to the table on numerous occasions to continue negotiations, but the committee has been unresponsive. 

Wyant said he felt it was important teachers federation members were made aware of the most recent offer. 

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Education has acknowledged classroom size and composition as an issue, but said it's not something to be discussed around the bargaining table. Instead, it has formed a provincial committee to try and address the problem.

"Government understands the challenge teachers have regarding class complexity. There is opportunity for the parties to address these issues at the local level which is more appropriate given the vast differences in the needs of individual schools," the letter sent to teachers says.

The letter also says the ministry feels its offer to teachers is "fair and reasonable."

"This offer balances the Government's appreciation and respect of teachers with the responsible fiscal management that taxpayers expect and other unions have accepted," the letter explained.

The sanctions have caused confusion for families and students across Saskatchewan, as hundreds of clubs and activities have been cancelled. 

Organizers of student-focused events planned for outside of school are scrambling, as teachers who volunteer and help supervise the events are taking part in the job action.

The remainder of the province's basketball season is cancelled and badminton season has been suspended as a result of the sanctions.

On Wednesday, students from across the province gathered at the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina to demonstrate in support of teachers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Covering everything and anything for CBC Saskatoon, Morgan is a journalist interested in municipal and provincial affairs, Canadian crime and Canadian politics. Familiar with a variety of beats, Morgan has worked as a staff reporter for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Metro Calgary, Metro Saskatoon and the Fort McMurray Today and now works for CBC in Saskatoon.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now