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NSTU teachers held a rally on Starrs Road in Yarmouth on Dec. 6. A tentative agreement has now been reached.
© Tina Comeau
HALIFAX, N.S. - The province and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU), representing public school teachers, have reached a tentative agreement for about 9,300 public school teachers in Nova Scotia, a release issued Friday by the NSTU states.
Late in the day Jan. 20, the NSTU announced the current work-to-rule strike action will be "suspended and phased out beginning Jan. 23."
This is the third time a tentative agreement has been reached between the province and the union on a new contract; two previous deals were voted down by members.
“We know that this has been a difficult time for teachers, students, parents, and families,” NSTU president Liette Doucet said in the release. “We thank and appreciate the patience and support we’ve received.”
“In reaching this tentative agreement, we are suspending our work-to-rule job action pending the upcoming ratification vote,” she continues. “We have been focused exclusively on teaching, highlighting the working and learning conditions of teachers and students, and demonstrating how teachers go above and beyond.”
Doucet also says that the NSTU has been focused on resolving this issue and getting a new agreement for her members. “Both parties worked day and night over the last week to come to this new tentative agreement.”
The NSTU provincial executive reviewed this new tentative agreement Friday and Thursday and recommended acceptance by the NSTU membership.
“This tentative agreement will be provided to NSTU public school members in regional meetings around the province to be scheduled within the next two weeks, in advance of the ratification vote scheduled for Feb. 8,” the release states. “Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until the agreement is ratified by union members.”
Teachers have been without a contract since July 2015.
The Department of Education also sent out a release about the agreement.
"I'm pleased to have reached this point," said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey. "Both government and the union worked hard to come to this agreement. Now the members will have their opportunity to vote through ratification."
The news was welcomed by students.
“We feel relieved that this situation is over and done with, and we are excited to get back to normal and carry out the rest of our school year,” said Shannon Fitzpatrick, student council president at Pictou County's North Nova Education Center .
Effect on students
Students from across the province have spoken out about the labour dispute. In December, student groups held protests supporting teachers.
High school students have also voiced frustration with how the union’s work-to-rule action was affecting their school experience, including students at South Colchester Academy in Brookfield spoke up in a YouTube video earlier this month.
The suspension of Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation sports during work-to-rule lead to the cancellation of a number of long-running tournaments, most recently the Coal Bowl and Red Cup.
Sports associations organized alternative opportunities for high school athletes – including new hockey leagues that were scheduled to start play this week - but local rinks are feeling the pinch of cancelled bookings.
What will happen to school sport seasons other activities disrupted by labour action might become clearer, when the union and government have agreed to begin “phase out” of work to rule.