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NSTU teachers held a rally on Starrs Road in Yarmouth on Dec. 6, one day after the province had kept students out of school saying student safety was at risk due to work-to-rule job action. The union said student safety was not at risk. Students were back in class on Dec. 6.
© Tina Comeau
Teachers in Nova Scotia plan to strike for one day in protest to the provincial government’s move to legislate a contract.
“The complete lack of respect displayed by Stephen McNeil and his government towards teachers, students and their families has left NSTU members with no choice but to initiate a one-day province-wide walk-out on Friday, Feb. 17,” a release from the union stated on Wednesday.
“In the entire 122 year history of the NSTU, our members have never faced a more anti-education Premier than Stephen McNeil,” says NSTU president Liette Doucet. “The legislation he introduced yesterday limits teachers’ right to strike, erodes their ability to negotiate a fair contract and prevents them from advocating for reforms to improve learning conditions for their students. The result is the first province-wide teacher strike ever in Nova Scotia.”
The NSTU says teachers will use the day to ensure government MLAs know the full impact of the McNeil government’s actions on Nova Scotia’s public education system and public sec-tor workers in the province.
“We believe this legislation is unconstitutional and we owe it to our colleagues past, pre-sent and future to take this stand. Stephen McNeil says he wants to hear from teachers, so on Friday teachers will spend the day ensuring the Premier and his Liberal caucus get the message - his government’s bully tactics can no longer be tolerated.”
Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh issued a release supporting the move by teachers.
“Bill 75 is regressive and flies in the face of fair collective bargaining, something that this Premier and his Government apparently do not know how to do. This is consistent with the McNeil government’s well documented lack of respect for the collective rights of workers. A legislated contract will do nothing to improve the state of labour relations in our province."
Progressive Conservative education critic Pat Dunn said he was surprised to hear teachers would be striking Friday.
The Pictou Centre MLA said he thought such labour action would have taken place earlier, instead of just days ahead of the Liberal government legislating teachers into a new four-year contract.
“I am going to let that rest on the shoulders of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union,” he said when asked if this was the right move by the union. “It is another day where things will be in disarray in regard to the students and things that happen outside the school. We already had several storm days recently. We need some consistency and structure now.”