Liette Doucet, NSTU president.
HALIFAX, N.S. - Nova Scotia's 9,000 public school teachers have stepped up their battle with the province after rejecting a tentative agreement between their union and the McNeil government.
In a provincewide electronic vote held Tuesday, 94 per cent of Nova Scotia Teachers Union public school members voted 70 per cent against the tentative deal.
“Our public school members are highly engaged in the process of democracy and have used their voice in rejecting this tentative agreement,” NSTU president Liette Doucet said in a news release Oct. 4. “It’s clear that the improvements negotiated were not enough for our members, and the concerns of poor working conditions and not being valued as professionals influenced members as they voted against this agreement.”
Doucet says she's worried about the implications the vote has on Bill 148, adding the union leadership is fearful the government will proclaim the legislation that will impact all public sector workers. Bill 148, the Public Services Sustainability Act, includes provisions to impose wage settlements.
This is the second tentative agreement NSTU members have voted down in the last year.
As formoving forward on the bargaining front, Doucet says, “We expect that the conciliator will now file a report that will state that the parties were unable to reach an agreement.
"We will meet with our provincial executive to explore our options under the Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Act. Looking at the option of seeking a strike vote from members will be one of our considerations.”
Whatever the NSTU faces in the coming weeks, Doucet said her union “will move forward and continue to advocate for public education and for teachers.”
The current teachers’ contract expired on July 31, 2015.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey expressed disappointment at the result.
"I was very disappointed to learn about the outcome of the vote this evening," she said. "The collective bargaining process has run its course. This is the second time we reached a tentative agreement with different bargaining teams from the NSTU that was rejected by the membership. We will not be returning to the table; we now await the union's decision."
Opposition and PC leader Jamie Baillie said the province must put students first.
"Our students must be the main priority now. Nova Scotia parents will not take kindly to further political game-playing with their children's education," Baillie said. "Premier McNeil currently has many tools at his disposal to avoid a disruption in the school year. We expect him to use the tools he has to ensure there is no interruption in classroom learning."