Teachers across the province staged a one-day strike Tuesday, hoping to get the Saskatchewan Government back to the negotiating table.
Teachers in La Ronge were on the picket lines, seeking a new contract, which the local union said is reflective of their classrooms.
Debbie Banman, President of the Northern Area Teachers Association explained that years of funding cuts to education are hurting students.
“We don’t have the resources in schools. Teachers are stressed out. Teachers are working in unfavourable conditions, which means our children don’t have the best learning environment,” said Banman.
Teachers have been without a new collective bargaining agreement since August and in October voted in favour of job sanctions, as negotiations are at an impasse. A contentious issue for teachers are class sizes and complexion, citing a variety of different needs.
Yet Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill, speaking to reporters the day teachers were on strike, closed the door to negotiations over classroom make-up, suggesting that school divisions be responsible for that, not a new collective agreement.
“That’s a line in the sand for the government that we’re not going to be moving on,” he said. “We believe that issues around classroom size complexity are best dealt with by school divisions.”
Cockrill said a recent investment of $6.1 million dollars in two pilot projects demonstrates that the government is aware there are problems in the classroom.
However further job sanctions could be coming if negotiations don’t resume soon. “We are hoping by showing today on this one-day strike across the province that we are united as teachers and we are supported by the public,” Banman said. “That is a possibility. The STF (Saskatchewan Teachers Federation) will call upon us and give us notice on what our next steps will be.”
(Photo by David Smith. With files by David Smith)