|FTLComm - Tisdale - September 8, 2000|
|The normal scene at the elementary school at 8:15 would be the parking lot would
be full and students would be milling around entrances and on the playground. But,
this morning at 8:15 there were two vehicles in the parking lot and two members of
the safety patrol on duty with not less than five or six students.
Saskatchewan teachers are not a happy lot as they had voted for a strike in June then held off on it to give negotiations a chance during the summer. But after two months the government had not moved and job action was announced on Monday of this week. The STF (Saskatchewan Teachers Federation) leader Derwin Crossier-Smith announced that they would have a "soft entry" into job action by instituting a work to rule action Friday. Crossier-Smith has been severely criticised by the teachers for this mellow response and there is talk among teachers of demanding the resignation of the negotiating committee because of their failure to take action that would indicate that the teachers are serious in their demands.
Saskatchewan teachers are asking for 17% over three years, the government offer back in June was slightly below the rate of inflation and makes no effort to catch up for the years teachers have fallen behind salaries in other jurisdictions. Teachers in Saskatchewan have seen their real earning reduced as costs have gone up and taxes have steadily risen. The result has been that mobile teachers are leaving the province for employment elsewhere and will continue to do so rather then work in over crowded classrooms in Saskatchewan for less pay.
It is interesting that in Tisdale the teacher militancy varies considerably. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page teachers at the elementary school heeded the direction by the STF to stay away from work until close to nine o'clock and as it turned out the elementary staff arrived at work between 8:35 and 8:40 but at 8:20 most of the staff of TMSS were already on the job as you can see in the picture of the TMSS parking lot.
Most analysts were convinced that the Romanow government would not risk a teacher strike as the nurses strike was quite enough. However, the STF's "soft entry" action might have the opposite result than intended. The government may mistakenly assume the teachers are not that resolved with their laughable work-to-rule action and the dispute may be significantly prolonged. In the earlier round of bargaining the government thought that the rejection of their initial offer by the teacher vote was not great enough and the teachers turned around and voted overwhelmingly in support of a strike. it is likely that this job action will also be interpreted as weakness without realising the deep discontent by the province's teaching staff
Throughout the province this work-to-rule action will have some serious affects on students and school spirit. The football season is a very short one and for many schools it is the struggle on the field that helps bond the students and their teachers together in a common cause. Similarly many schools hold their graduation and awards ceremonies at this time of the year and these important events are in jeopardy