REGINA — Saskatchewan`s teacher bargaining committee has reached a preliminary agreement with the province. The Saskatchewan government and the province`s teachers` union have tentatively agreed on a new four-year contract. The Saskatchewan government and the province`s teacher bargaining committee have reached a preliminary contract agreement, but it will not include any provisions on class composition and size. The Saskatchewan government and the teachers` bargaining committee agreed on an interim agreement. Teachers will now have the final say as the 13,500 members of the association will vote on the provisional offer in the next three to four weeks. This will be the first electronic vote in the history of the STF. Teachers must now vote on the four-year contract, which would give them a 2% increase in the second, third and final year of the agreement. The agreement, if ratified, is retroactive until September 2019. “The adoption of this agreement does not signal that teachers` concerns have been taken into account,” STF President Patrick Maze said in the statement. Maze said he did not encourage preliminary agreement, but said teachers will decide whether it is satisfactory. If ratified, the STF said the agreement would enter into force from September 1, 2019 until August 31, 2023. “This interim agreement compensates for our respect and esteem for teachers with the fiscal realities of the province,” Education Minister Gordon Wyant said Wednesday. “This interim agreement compensates for our respect and esteem for teachers with the fiscal realities of the province,” Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Gordon Wyant said in a press release.
“The terms of our offer mean that Saskatchewan teachers will be stable for years to come and will be paid 5% above the Western Canadian average.” The four-year contract includes a 2% increase in salaries for the second, third and fourth years of the contract. The union and the government reached an interim agreement on 22 April. The agreement is retroactive to September 1 last year and runs until August 31, 2023. In a press release released Thursday night, the Saskatchewan Teachers` Association announced that its members voted 85 per cent for the new four-year contract. The vote took place between Tuesday and Thursday. “Our withdrawal from these issues from this round of negotiations does not signal a solution or less importance to these issues,” Maze said. Both sides are involved in a bitter contractual dispute, in which a deadlock over class size and composition has been reached. The Saskatchewan Teachers` Association has been out of contract since August 2019. Since then, Maze has called the negotiations “unprecedented” and stressful. “The terms of our offer mean that Saskatchewan teachers will be stable for years to come and will be paid 5% above the Western Canadian average.” Maze said the province has also committed to reviewing its provincial bargaining committee. A member of the STF had sat on the commission while the government had five representatives. Education Minister Gordon Wyant said in a press release that by the end of the contract, teachers were receiving five per cent more than the average salary paid in Western Canada.
Maze said the bargaining committee believes it is important for teachers to vote on the offer, given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. However, the agreement does not address one of the main problems the union encountered during the negotiations: the composition and complexity of the classroom. The union said in the statement that the government`s bargaining committee was not prepared to include it in the contract. “I think we`ve made significant progress on this issue, and the association is unwavering in its commitment to addressing class complexity and ensuring a properly funded public education system in Saskatchewan.” “Our withdrawal from these issues from this round of negotiations does not signal a solution or less importance to these issues,” Maze said.