North East School Division preparing for possible teachers' job action

EAST CENTRAL — With the looming possibility of teachers going on strike across the province, the North East School Division (NESD) has formed a committee to prepare for if that happens.

This comes after members of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation have voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action, with 90.2 per cent of members in support.

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The federation represents 13,500 teachers whose last contract expired Aug. 31.

“We’ve responded already with a job action planning committee, which is executive council and our board chair,” said Don Rempel, director of education for the NESD. “We’re putting contingency plans in place to make sure our schools can safely operate in various scenarios.”

Rempel said these contingency plans put in place will cover appropriate steps for before and after school supervision, and extracurricular activities as well as when schools would not be open.

Patrick Maze, the federation’s president, said the union will provide 48 hours of notice if there are severe sanctions such as a walkout.

“If we don’t have teachers, a full day without teachers, obviously we have a 48 hours’ notice on cancelling school in those situations,” Rempel said. “Then we have to have a plan for the non-teaching staff – who do they report to? How do we make sure if someone shows up at school by a mistake they can safely be returned home?”

Rempel said they’re not alone, with all the boards in the province preparing for job action.

“We will be posting notices on our school website, the NESD website for parents and school messenger, which is the notification parents get if the bus doesn’t run or the school sends out messages.”

Maze said even though the bargaining committee has a mandate to move on sanctions, the goal is to negotiate a collective agreement.

Funding and classroom supports are key issues in the labour dispute.

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