Teachers move closer to strike position as talks break down
The province’s teachers have asked for a conciliation board to look at their ongoing contract talks with the government, which is one of the final steps before they would be in a legal position to strike.
Jim Dinn, speaking for the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association (NLTA), said that the members of his union are getting frustrated with the government after years in negotiation.
He said the current contract proposal would hurt how teachers do their job.
“They’re angry,” he said. “Government has no idea what goes on in a classroom in a school.”
The two sides are coming out of conciliation, which he said didn’t work.
A conciliation board would hear from both sides and put together a report which might lead to further negotiations, teachers would vote on the report and then they could take job action.
At issue, Dinn said, is family leave for teachers and substitute teachers issues.
“They want total discretionary control over the provision of substitute teachers,” Dinn said. “It will be up to the employer whether or not a replacement teacher will be provided. This is going to have a major effect.”
He said that could mean that if a teacher is off, instead of bringing in a substitute, children could be sent home, or classes could be doubled up.
Johnson said that she didn’t want to talk about specifics, but she believes the government has a reasonable offer on the table.
“We are not looking for major concessions here,” she said.
“Obviously they don’t feel the same, but to comment on specific issues, I would prefer to have the conversation with Jim Dinn, and if he wants to have that conversation in public, I would be more than willing.”
Dinn downplayed the possibility of a strike. He said nothing will happen before the end of the school year for sure, as the conciliation board process plays out.
As for further down the road, he said the NLTA will still try to come to a negotiated settlment.
“Teachers are not looking for any job action at this point ... in terms of a strike,” he said.