Education

NSTU, province headed to bargaining table

Public school teachers could walk off the job on Dec. 3

Education minister Karen Casey gives discusses annual report for Nova Scotia's Action Plan on Education
Education Minister Karen Casey (left) in February. The NSTU and province will head back to the bargaining table after agreeing to conciliation on Thursday.   Kathleen Munro

The provincial government and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) have agreed to conciliation hoping to avoid a teachers strike in December.

“Education is a priority and we do not want to see a disruption in classrooms across the province,” said Education Minister Karen Casey in a news release on Thursday. “We have said all along we will listen and work to address teachers’ concerns.”

Casey’s negotiation team asked a conciliator to help resolve the contract dispute. Conciliation officer Jarrod Baboushkin contacted the NSTU Thursday morning to invite the two sides together again and the NSTU accepted the offer Thursday afternoon.

“We’re happy to get back to the table and hopefully we will be able to reach an agreement,” said Liette Doucet, NSTU president, in a news release. “However, until an agreement is reached our provincial executive will continue to plan and implement a strategy for job action.”

NSTU public school members voted 96 per cent in favour of job action on Oct. 25; they can legally walk off the job on Dec. 3. Despite a conciliation being in place, it will not change this mandate.

The union is looking for improved working conditions, such as a decreased workload and elimination of tasks that take away from teaching time with students.

The Halifax Regional School Board is working on a contingency plan in the event of a strike, but the details haven’t been released. The board will share the plan with parents and guardians, if the need arises.

“We are encouraged by today’s announcement and hopeful both sides will reach an agreement that will avoid job action,” said Doug Hadley, a school board spokesman, in an email.