Teachers opt for sanctions vote after release of conciliation board report

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Patrick Maze

There is still no agreement on a new contract for Saskatchewan teachers despite four days of discussions with both sides by an independent Conciliation Board January 21-24.

The report of the Conciliation Board, chaired by Arne Peltz, was released February 10. It recommended a three-year contract with salary increases of one per cent for year one and two per cent for years two and three.

The report also addressed the issues of class size and composition, as well as contracts for substitute teachers, but did not recommend inclusion of these issues in the collective agreement.

The Government Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) and the Minister of Education accepted the recommendations of the Conciliation Board report.

“I thank the conciliation board for their work and look forward to both parties returning to the bargaining table,” Education Minister Gordon Wyant said in a news release. “We recognize that the issue of class size and composition needs to be dealt with collaboratively and the conciliation report reflects that. We are encouraged that the GTBC offer is very close to what the conciliation board has now recommended.”

However, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) President Patrick Maze called the report a failure, and said the results of a sanctions vote by the STF membership held February 10 and 11 will be released later this month.

“This is a sad day for students and teachers across the province,” said Maze in a news release  “We were hopeful that we would be able to come together to find solutions; sadly, that was not the case.

“The numerous public engagement processes undertaken over the last year clearly indicate the importance of supports in the classroom. We were seeking assurances that school divisions have sufficient resources to meet the diverse needs of students,” he added.

Maze said the decision to take a sanctions vote was not  taken lightly..

The Conciliation Board recommended the two sides continue discussions on the issue of class size and composition  by exploring potential partnerships to support classroom student learning and teacher working environment. 

During the conciliation talks the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee restated its offer of $20 million to assist school divisions in addressing students’ needs. The STF President said the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee was unwilling to explore the potential of this offer.

Both sides say they are willing to return to the bargaining table. Teachers in Saskatchewan have been without a contract since August, 2019.