A strike vote of 96 percent on Tuesday means Nova Scotia’s 9,300 teachers could be walking off the job as early as December 3.
“Public school teachers have spoken loud and clear,” said NSTU president Liette Doucet in a press release. “We feel strongly about providing better education to Nova Scotia’s students and are willing to take action to make meaningful change for the learning and teaching environment in this province.”
The provincial government has twice reached a tentative agreement with NSTU negotiators, but both deals have been subsequently rejected by members. The union’s contract expired in 2015.
Doucet writes that free and fair collective bargaining, maintaining benefits and a reasonable salary package are all points of contention in the latest negotiations, as is freeing up resources for teachers to work with students.
“Teachers haven’t been genuinely consulted in government decisions affecting classrooms and schools and as a result we are spending less time doing the things that matter most to students.”
Education and Early Childhood Development minister Karen Casey called the vote a “disappointment for parents and students, and for government” in a press release, and claimed the education of Nova Scotia’s students remains top priority for government.
“The teachers' union admitted a strike will cause short-term pain for students,” writes Casey. “That's not the best way to address challenges in our classrooms. The best way to do that is by working with us to avoid disruptions for today's students.”
Voter turnout on Tuesday was 107 percent, allowing for substitute teachers working who were also allowed to cast a vote.
According to the union, the last strike vote was on October 3, 2002. There has never been a province-wide teachers strike.