STF ends contract talks, saying province not willing to 'make a change'

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) says it has shut down the conciliation process with the province that was initiated after regular bargaining was unsuccessful.

The teachers' bargaining committee has been in talks with the government trustee bargaining committee through conciliator Ernie Peltz for four days. 

"We hadn't moved very far, if at all, on the issues that are important. And so we ended up deciding that conciliation just wasn't a success," said Patrick Maze, president of the STF. 

Conciliation was set up after nine months of failed negotiations, which ended in November. 

The teachers want salary increases of two per cent, three per cent and three per cent over a three-year agreement. This follows two years with no increases.

They also want changes to class size and composition. Maze said classrooms are overloaded with students and those with special needs don't get the attention they need because teachers are too busy "putting out fires."

"We would want to make sure that every student has the highest quality education possible and unfortunately under the current classroom situations that's not being offered to them," Maze said. 

In the fall Education Minister Gord Wyant said was not willing to include class size and composition in an agreement with the union.

He argued it would take away the ability to respond to individual situations.

Maze said the province seems to be unwilling to come to an agreement for financial reasons. 

The STF reinstated it's offer to divert $20 million in annual contributions to the teachers' health plan to address student needs if matched by the provincial government. Maze said the government didn't explore the offer.

Education Minister says he's awaiting report from conciliation panel

Minister of Education Gordon Wyant said the government's bargaining committee felt that progress was being made toward solutions on a number of items.

Bryan Eneas/CBC

"The [committee] awaits the report from the conciliation panel and continues to look forward to future negotiations with the Teacher's Bargaining Committee," Wyant said in an statement emailed to CBC. 

The teachers' bargaining committee will work with the STF Executive to decide what to do next. It will also be meeting with teachers' associations across the province in February. 

Maze said a solution could include going back to the bargaining table, attempting to negotiate a deal or having a sanctions vote.