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A timeline of the Saskatchewan teacher, government bargaining dispute

Teachers and the Sask. Party government have been at the bargaining table for a year, and teachers are set to vote on a final offer brought forward by the province’s bargaining committee.

The Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) presented a final offer to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF), with teachers voting on Wednesday and Thursday.

The sides have been at odds, with the STF calling for issues like classroom size and complexity to be addressed in a new agreement and the province saying those issues fall under school board jurisdiction.

Issues around underfunding for education have been a persistent topic in Saskatchewan, with both teachers and school boards saying the province’s funding has not kept up with inflation for several years now.

Advertisement campaign billboard by the Saskatchewan government in Saskatoon. Ethan Butterfield/ Global News

In the midst of collective bargaining talks, billboards started popping up across Saskatchewan from the provincial government talking about the proposed salary increase for teachers, calling it “A Fair Deal for Teachers.”

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The STF had also been vocal about what was described as a lack of movement from the government, with STF president Samantha Becotte saying in July 2023 that she foresaw an erosion of public education if supports weren’t brought forward.

“We just see no movement from the other side of the table with the government or trustees in any commitment in addressing this at the bargaining table,” Becotte said on July 21, 2023.

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It wasn’t until October 2023 that the STF announced that both bargaining committees had reached an impasse and that a federation vote would be brought forward to teachers regarding possible sanctions.

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On Oct. 27, 2023, the STF said a large majority of voters were in favour of job sanctions.

“Teachers want to negotiate a fair deal at the bargaining table. We are hopeful that the conciliation process will be successful. But the results of this vote send a very clear message,” Becotte said.

Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill continued to say the offer that was on the table from the government was a fair deal for teachers.

“We’ve been clear that we are at the bargaining table with a fair deal for teachers. We are ready to continue bargaining because we want to ensure predictability for teachers, for families and for students across our province,” Cockrill said.

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Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan teachers call for more in-classroom support'

Saskatchewan teachers call for more in-classroom support

Job action followed in the new year, with a one-day strike taking place in 40 locations across the province on Jan. 16, 2024.

Becotte and Canadian Teachers’ Federation president Heidi Yetman delivered more than 3,300 letters addressed to Premier Scott Moe and Cockrill at the Saskatchewan legislature looking for issues like classroom size and complexity to be addressed.

Cockrill admitted that there were challenges in classrooms across the province but said there needs to be local school board autonomy.

Further job action came in the following days and months, with strikes taking place at different schools on different days, as well as extracurricular activities and lunchroom supervision being pulled.

Talks at the bargaining table became less and less as the STF said it wouldn’t speak with the province’s bargaining committee unless it was given a new mandate to discuss issues that were important to teachers.

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School event cancellations due to teacher job sanctions began to impact several school events, one of the more notable cancellations being Hoopla in March 2024.

Students began to protest as well, with some calling for the STF to leave extracurricular events alone, and others calling for the provincial government to address issues like underfunding and classroom size and complexity.

The STF announced that a work-to-rule model would be implemented at the beginning of April, and that teachers would only be at work 15 minutes before and after work and voluntary actions like noon-hour supervision and extracurriculars would be pulled indefinitely.

Teacher sanctions were quickly lifted on April 12 after it was announced that the STF and the GTBC would be heading back to the bargaining table.

A few days later, on April 18, the final offer was brought forward by the province.

“The GTBC feels this is a fair and reasonable agreement that will benefit Saskatchewan students, teachers, and families,” the GTBC said.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan teachers to vote on final bargaining offer from government in May'

Saskatchewan teachers to vote on final bargaining offer from government in May

That sentiment, however, wasn’t shared.

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“There was no willingness to find further solutions within the bargaining process that addressed the concerns that teachers have brought forward in this,” Becotte said.

She said the offer wasn’t immediately rejected because teachers should have a chance to give their opinion on the improvement in the new agreement.

— with files from Global News’ Andrew Benson and Brooke Kruger

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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