Sunday, January 29, 2017

What the ... interpretation?!?!?

The Nova Scotia Provincial Government and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) came to an  agreement on a contract  to be presented to the union membership for ratification or rejection.

The NSTU had been doing a work to rule campaign since before Christmas and halted it pending the vote on February 8th. Under work to rule the teachers refuse to do any work that they are not specifically contracted to do. his means after school activities, trips, helping students who are having trouble. Basically, they work 8-3 and only teach, mark, and do paperwork in that time. Anything else is not allowed. This meant they would not do reference letters for students applying to University. Sports tournaments had to be cancelled because the teachers would not volunteer to be there for them. In a move of great hypocrisy some Union Members DID go on a trip to Hawaii for "development" training. Their reasoning was that the trip was already paid for. WHich was cold comfort for parents and students who had trips that were already paid for cancelled because the teachers wouldn't go. But I digress. The work to rule campaign was put on hold.

Then, out of the blue, the NSTU announced the work to rule campaign would be back on this coming Monday. Why? According to Union President Liette Doucette, they didn't know if they still had a contract because the Premier in a comment about the contract reneged on the agreement. According to Doucette the Premier reinterpreted the meaning of part of the contract that gave 2 more days off to teachers.

The Premier told reporters on January 26th that the 2 days are for marking and preparation time. They aren't just days that a teacher can take anywhere at anytime. Which means they aren't free vacation days.

Here is what the contract says (this is from a copy of the agreement that someone made available to the media even though it is supposed to be confidential)

Article 31.10 (i) (a) Effective August 1, 2017, permanent, probationary, and teachers with a term contract of a minimum 175 days will be provided 2 days of leave with pay per school year for self-directed preparation/development of the teacher.  

That pretty much sounds like what the Premier said to me.  It further states:

iv) Leave under (i): 
(a) shall be requested in advance; 
(b) can be taken in half day or full day increments; 
(c) is subject to the availability of a substitute teacher; 
(d) is subject to the requirement to appropriately staff the school; 
(e) cannot be contiguous with other time off (e.g., holidays, March Break, long weekends, other approved time off). The foregoing may be waived in special circumstances; and 
(f) shall not be unreasonably denied. 
So, where is the Premier reneging on the agreement? Exactly how did he misinterpret it?

If  someone told the union membership the clause meant a free day a la vacation time they lied. Doucette is the President of NSTU. Did she, or someone from the bargaining unit, lie to the membership?

Now some teachers are complaining that they didn't want extra days off. Well this isn't exactly extra days off, it is 2 days they can use for preparation and marking, something they have complained they need. Plus, the NSTU bargaining unit was part of putting it into the contract, It isn't like the government legislated it in.

As things stand now NSTU is going back to work to rule because the Premier stated what the tentative contract says about the 2 days off. They claim he reneged on the deal, Something smells wrong about the way NSTU is acting. Methinks the NSTU President felt that the membership would reject this contract and is just trying to save face.

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