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Sask. teachers to hold another 1-day strike Monday

Teachers and supporters walk along Albert Street in Regina on Tuesday as part in the one-day strike organized by the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation. Another one-day strike is set for Monday. (CBC/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Teachers and supporters walk along Albert Street in Regina on Tuesday as part in the one-day strike organized by the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation. Another one-day strike is set for Monday. (CBC/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) says there will be another one-day strike by all members on Monday.

Some 13,000 STF members walked out and picketed across the province on Tuesday.

The STF says there is overwhelming public support for teachers, but that the province refuses to engage in meaningful conversation on a collective agreement.

The union says it reached an impasse with the government over class sizes and complexity.

The province has said those issues are better dealt with at the school division level instead.

Province says salaries are the issue, teachers say they're not 

On Thursday, Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer announced SaskEnergy and UNIFOR Local 649 had reached a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with a wage increase of eight per cent over three years.

She said she hopes the province can also reach a deal with teachers soon, but that teachers are asking for a salary increase, plus consumer price indexing (CPI) "which is not in any other bargaining agreement that we have."

Although national CPI numbers for future years are unknown, Harpauer said the province used forecasters to determine that the teachers' requested salary increase would amount to 23.5 per cent.

Minister of Finance, Donna Harpauer, says the STF is asking for a salary increase plus consumer price index, which is making the bargaining process challenging.
Minister of Finance, Donna Harpauer, says the STF is asking for a salary increase plus consumer price index, which is making the bargaining process challenging.

Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer says the STF is asking for a salary increase plus consumer price indexing, which is making the bargaining process challenging. (CBC News)

Saskatchewan Teachers Federation president Samantha Becotte remained firm in her stance that salary is not the main issue at the table, but said it is part of what the teachers are bargaining for.

"Our salary proposal is two per cent per year plus an adjustment for cost of living or CPI."  she said. "CPI is unknown, we don't know what it's going to be in future years."

Becotte said the salary proposal is an opening position and that teachers are "not demanding anything." She added that the government-trustee bargaining committee (GTBC) is the side refusing to talk on salaries until other issues are resolved.

"We're ready to engage in conversations, we're ready to have a real negotiations process," she said.

Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Samantha Becotte speaks with media in front of the legislature during the organization's one day protest on Jan. 16, 2024.
Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Samantha Becotte speaks with media in front of the legislature during the organization's one day protest on Jan. 16, 2024.

Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Samantha Becotte says teachers are asking for a two per cent increase per year, plus CPI. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

In a statement to CBC News, the Government of Saskatchewan said it has already put forward a salary increase for teachers.

"The GTBC has put forward a fair deal for teachers with a 7 per cent raise over three years, ensuring Saskatchewan teachers remain paid above the Western Canadian Average. The GTBC remains at the table, ready to discuss competitive salary and benefits, but cannot negotiate without the STF at the table as well."

NDP education critic Matt Love said STF's job action announcement is a result of underfunding from the provincial government.

"It didn't have to come to this, but what we've had is a government for the better part of a decade reducing per-student funding, causing more students to come to school every year in Saskatchewan with fewer supports for them," he said.

Full strike off the table for now: Becotte

When asked if the federation is considering a full strike, Becotte said anything is a possibility, but that it would not be the best option at this time.

"We don't want to have significant disruptions like a full unlimited walk-out like we saw in Quebec," she said. "We don't want that here in Saskatchewan."

Becotte said she's hoping to return to the bargaining table as soon as possible.