Education International
Education International

Canada: Teacher union announces withdrawal of voluntary services

published 27 May 2011 updated 27 May 2011

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF), which is affiliated to EI’s member organisation the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, has announced that its members will be withdrawing their voluntary services as part of an on-going dispute over terms and conditions.

The withdrawal of services will begin on Monday, 30 May, and continue until further notice.  The action will mean that teachers will continue to provide a professional service within the school hours as set out in the Education Act (1995) but they will not participate in supplementary and voluntary events scheduled outside of the school day.

It will be for school board to reschedule, cancel or make alternate arrangements for events.

This most recent action comes following three days of full withdrawal of professional service in May which were brought on by the government and the Saskatchewan School Board Association’s unwillingness to bargain fairly or provide a fair, reasonable and competitive salary for teachers.

“Teachers do not take this action lightly. They, too, enjoy providing these valuable opportunities for students,” said Gwen Dueck, spokesperson for the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee.

“All of the actions taken by teachers, including the upcoming withdrawal of voluntary services, are intended to apply pressure on the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee. We are looking for the government and trustees to return to the table, bargain in good faith and bring the resources needed to conclude an agreement that affirms the worth of teachers.”

Saskatchewan teachers have consistently argued that they have been flexible and are willing to find a solution to the current contract dispute with the government.

“We have presented two solutions to the current dispute,” said Dueck. “We are urging the government to either bring sufficient resources to conclude a fair, reasonable and competitive agreement or agree to enter into binding arbitration.”

The current proposal from Saskatchewan teachers calls for a 16.3 per cent salary increase over three years. This increase would bring teacher salaries in line with salary levels in Alberta and Manitoba. It would also provide a modest cost of living increase to help teachers maintain their purchasing power in our growing and robust economy.

Saskatchewan teachers are confident that their salary request would be upheld by an independent third party in binding arbitration. To date, the government and Saskatchewan School Board Association have failed to present a solution that demonstrates the importance of teachers, the publicly funded education system in Saskatchewan and the students that the system serves.

EI urges the government and the Saskatchewan School Board Association to join the STF at the bargaining table and ensure that decent work conditions and salaries are given to the teachers who provide quality public education to all students.