News / Halifax

Nova Scotia teachers 'focused on their students' despite labour turmoil

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union president says Friday's strike is a way for teachers to stand up against a 'bullying' government legislating a contract

A teacher takes questions from his class at St. Mary's School in this fie photo.

Metro file

A teacher takes questions from his class at St. Mary's School in this fie photo.

As parents look for child care and teachers plan their descent on Province House this Friday for Nova Scotia’s first-ever teacher strike, the union leader says quality education hasn’t suffered in classrooms.

Speaking with media in the legislature Wednesday, Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) president Liette Doucet said while she understands work-to-rule and a strike is disruptive for families, teachers are more focused than ever on kids.

“Teachers are in the classroom teaching, they are focused on their students as they have been over the past two months. They are ensuring that their students are taught every day, they never left the classroom,” Doucet said.

“They are covering the outcomes and doing the best that they can for their students … as they will continue to do so in the future.”

Doucet said in light of a bill being presented this week that would enforce a teacher contract, and no word yet on whether teachers could speak at law amendments committee outside school hours, it was important teachers “take a stand” Friday around the legislature in a show of strength.

“It’s been 122 years and there has never been a full-out strike, and at this point it’s a historical moment,” Doucet said.

“It shows teachers are fed up. They are tired of this government bullying them.”

Doucet said teachers are tired of no immediate classroom changes being made in earlier tentative agreements or this bill, despite years of data and recent reports outlining class size changes and resource needs that teachers continue to call for.

But Government House Leader, Liberal MLA Michel Samson, said it would not have been fair to “unilaterally” decide on classroom conditions without hearing from active teachers, which is why nine will be on the committee set to deliver a report this April.

“This is not meant to be a committee that will go ad nauseum, that will not act on its report. There are going to be significant changes that will be … implemented by this government,” Samson said.

Samson added he was disappointed the NSTU will strike in light of the recent storm days already keeping kids out of class, when they could have taken that action earlier or walked away from the negotiating table if they felt earlier deals weren’t good enough.

The NSTU forced the government into legislation by encouraging their members take each of the three deals, which were then rejected, Samson said, adding the situation is “not normal.”

Samson also urged the opposition parties to help pass the bill by Thursday night, which would end job action and ensure kids would be in school.