'Battle' for classroom conditions must go on after teacher vote: professor
Regardless of what happens with the Nova Scotia teachers’ vote this week, one Halifax professor says the “bigger battle” about public education must continue.
Teachers and supporters waved placards reading Negotiate Don't Dictate and Act For Education, It’s Our Future while waiting for Hants West MLA Chuck Porter to arrive back from Halifax Dec. 5.
HALIFAX, N.S. – The education labour battle still rages.
Nova Scotia’s 9,300 public school teachers voted Feb. 9 to reject a third tentative agreement reached between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development since the opening of negotiations in September 2015.
In a province-wide electronic vote held today, union members voted 78.5 per cent against the tentative deal. Substitute teachers working today were eligible to vote, bringing the total vote count to more than 100 per cent.
“Public school teachers have spoken once again in rejecting this tentative agreement,” says NSTU president Liette Doucet in a news release.
“It’s clear our members are frustrated, they deserve better and what government offered in this agreement doesn’t go far enough in addressing the real classroom concerns that affect teachers and students.”
Education Minister Karen Casey called the vote results “ disappointing for students, parents, and government.
“This agreement provided a fair wage offer and showed we were willing to make further investments in classrooms,” she added in a media release.
“ The agreement contained $20 million that we could invest to improve classroom conditions and it gave teachers a say in how that money would be invested.
“We must now take time to consider the next step,” Casey said.
As far as next steps from the union perspecitive. Doucet said one thing was for certain: work-to-rule. “We do know that our work-to-rule job action will continue. What we don’t know is what government’s next move will be.
“We don’t know if they will agree to go back to the negotiating table, if they will legislate a contract, change the terms and conditions of employment or lock us out.”
The provincial executive will be meeting to discuss any other options available.
The current teachers’ contract expired in July, 2015. NSTU members have been in a legal strike position since Dec. 5.
Union members had already twice rejected contract agreements recommended by the union executive and voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike.
The union began a province-wide work-to-rule campaign in early December, disrupting many facets of school life, such as shows, trips, school athletics and other extra-curricular activities.
The NSTU had backed off on its work-to-rule last month following a tentative deal between the government and the union, but quickly reinstated it, saying it was because of Premier Stephen McNeill’s interpretation of a proposed two days off for the teachers in the agreement.