Teachers Begin Work-to-Rule After Government Crushes Optimism for Return to Bargaining

April 5, 2024
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan teachers are profoundly disappointed that the government’s intransigence has once again prolonged negotiations for a new provincial collective bargaining agreement. Beginning Monday, April 8, teachers across the province will begin work-to-rule. Work-to-rule requires the withdrawal of all voluntary services, including noon-hour supervision and extracurricular activities. Teachers will restrict their services to the hours of the workday.

At the end of March, government proposed a memorandum of understanding with teachers that would lay out the terms of an accountability framework to ensure proposed education funding makes it into the classrooms and toward the supports that it is intended for – to benefit students directly. This gave teachers reason to believe that a return to the table was on the horizon. After two weeks of back and forth, teachers’ last position was that the provincial collective bargaining agreement must include the following sentence:

“The parties agree that the Multi-Year Funding Agreement and the accountability framework will be followed and honoured.”

Government has refused to honour their own accountability framework by including this single line in a provincial collective agreement. Teachers have informed government that the inclusion of this one line, or sending this one issue to binding arbitration, would be a path back to the bargaining table. Binding arbitration has previously been suggested by the STF and refused by government.

“This government has lost all credibility and believability on the education file,” says Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Samantha Becotte. “Since negotiations began last May, they say one thing and do another. They ask us to trust them and then pull the rug out from under our feet. We were cautiously optimistic when they proposed an accountability framework, but they refuse to put a single line in the contract that would actually commit to that accountability. This government has a track record of broken promises, and if they will not commit to their own framework, it shows clearly that they have no intention to follow through with their election-year funding promises.”

On March 8, the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association announced a Multi-Year Funding Agreement that purports to provide funds to address issues of class size and complexity. This MFA leaves these funds, which are critically needed in classrooms, open to appropriation for other uses, such as servicing debt, expanding school board offices, or government clawbacks.

“With their MFA announcement, government and the SSBA sidestepped the collective bargaining process and deeply disrespected teachers’ bargaining rights by cutting a backroom deal between themselves,” says Becotte. “Anyone with a child in school, a teacher in their lives, an interest in the future of Saskatchewan’s workforce, or just a sense of right and wrong, should be outraged that government has chosen to prolong this situation based on a stubborn refusal to negotiate.”

Almost 400,000 emails have been sent to decision makers in government and school boards since January asking them to bargain in good faith with teachers. Anyone concerned for the future of publicly funded schools in Saskatchewan is encouraged to visit www.tellthemtuesday.com and join this call.

Contact information

Lynn Redl-Huntington, BA | Manager, Communications