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Council of Canadians in solidarity with one-day teachers strike in Nova Scotia

The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with the 9,300 teachers on a one-day strike in Nova Scotia today.

Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Angela Giles joined teachers at a large protest outside the provincial legislature today.

The Canadian Press reports, “Nova Scotia’s public school teachers walked off the job en masse Friday and staged a noisy protest outside the provincial legislature, where politicians continued a marathon debate on legislation to impose a contract on them.”

CBC adds, “Subdued debate inside Province House early Friday morning was counterbalanced by noisy protesters outside as public school teachers began their first strike in Nova Scotia history. MLAs have been in the legislature almost around the clock this week debating Bill 75, which will impose a contract on teachers. The legislation follows three rejected tentative agreements by union members in the last 15 months. Premier Stephen McNeil has said the bill is about ending work-to-rule job action. But the theme that’s emerged through the week at Province House is teachers are frustrated and have lost patience with government.”

That article adds, “During 15 hours of presentations at the law amendments committee since Wednesday, teacher after teacher talked about the unmanageable demands in the classroom and said more resources are needed to help students with increasingly challenging needs.”

Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) president Liette Doucet says, “Our members have never faced a more anti-education government, which is why we are taking this stand. At a time when badly needed reforms are required to improve our public education system, Stephen McNeil would rather pick fights with unions than fix problems.”

Bill 75 is expected to pass on February 21.

The Canadian Press explains, “The law will bring an end to the teachers’ work-to-rule campaign, which began December 5. The NSTU has told teachers they should only report for work 20 minutes before class starts and leave 20 minutes after the school day ends. The contract would include creation of a council that will invest $20 million over two years to address classroom conditions, which [teachers say] isn’t enough. The four-year contract contains a three per cent salary increase and incorporates many of the elements contained in the first two tentative agreements rejected by union members.”