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Nova Scotia Teachers Union to hold strike vote Feb. 20

Province says any job action would be illegal

3 min read
caption Provincial school assessments have been suspended to lighten the workload for teachers.
Rowan Morrissy
caption There might be a job action in Nova Scotia teachers’ future.
Rowan Morrissy

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union says it will hold a strike vote next week.

The union said the Feb. 20 vote would allow them to start a job action, if the provincial government doesn’t stop implementing the Glaze report.

“Our education system is once again under attack from the McNeil government,” said Liette Doucet, NSTU president, in a statement.

A vote in favour doesn’t guarantee a strike. Doucet said it means the union is prepared to take some kind of action.

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Heather Fairbairn, spokesperson for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, said the teachers’ contract is in effect until July 31, 2019.

“Any job action undertaken while this is in place would be illegal,” Fairbairn said in an email statement. “We are disappointed that the union executive is taking this position and ask that it consider how such action would affect students and their families.”

Principals, vice-principals prepare to stepdown

In another NSTU statement released Tuesday, principals and vice-principals are planning to return to classroom teaching, stepping down from their current positions, if the province continues to move forward with the Glaze report.

“The professional bond between principals, vice-principals and teachers is part of the fabric holding our schools together against a chronic lack of resources,” said Sue Larivière-Jenkins, vice-principal at École acadienne de Pomquet, in the statement.

Lois Landry, principal at Richmond Education Centre, also spoke out against the Glaze report.

“If the recommendations of the Glaze Report are implemented as proposed, I will be returning to the classroom and relinquishing my current role,” said Landry in the statement. “While I am not afraid of change, I am not prepared to risk the uncertainty of working outside of the NSTU in the current climate.”

Glaze report

The NSTU has spoken out against the Glaze report since it was released on Jan. 23.

The report, prepared by consultant Avis Glaze, calls for major changes to the education system, such as eliminating elected school boards and removing principals and vice-principals from the NSTU.

“We cannot sit on our hands and let Stephen McNeil do to our schools, what he did to our hospitals. We need to be prepared to fight for what is right and just,” Doucet said in a statement.

In 2015 the Liberal government launched a new health system by eliminating nine district health authorities to create one institution for the whole province — similar to what is being done with the school boards.

Education Minister Zach Churchill said the province plans to implement 11 of the 22 recommendations in the Glaze report by September.

Nova Scotia’s NDP leader spoke out about the potential job action by the NSTU.

“It is a huge step for the teachers’ union to consider this job action,” said Gary Burrill in a statement. “Stephen McNeil and his Liberal government had the opportunity to change course and have instead recommitted to pitting themselves against parents, students, and teachers.”

2016 NSTU work-to-rule

On Dec. 5, 2016, teachers started a work-to-rule campaign for better working conditions. They did not do work outside of their contract, such as hold after-school programs.

On Feb. 21, 2017, the Liberal government passed Bill 75, which ended the work-to-rule. It imposed a four-year contract on members of the NSTU.

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