HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Teachers Union has called a strike vote for Feb. 20.
In a memo sent out to union members, the union said information sessions will be held Wednesday and Thursday.
The union has been unhappy with the provincial government’s moves to reform the education system upon recommendations from consultant Avis Glaze.
Besides scrapping school boards in favour of a provincial advisory commission, the province intends to move school principals and vice-principals out of the NSTU and create a provincial college of educators to govern licensing.
“Our education system is once again under attack from the McNeil government,” NSTU president Liette Doucet said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.
“Last week we held information sessions around the province to discuss what the Glaze report will mean for our students, our classrooms and our profession. It was clear NSTU members agree the situation is dire and that as teachers and administrators we need to stand up for public education.
“We cannot sit on our hands and let Stephen McNeil do to our schools, what he did to our hospitals. We need to be prepared to fight for what is right and just.”
The union is seeking a mandate from its members to implement a job action “if the government is unprepared to back down from implementing the Glaze report.”
Last February, the Liberal majority government led by Premier Stephen McNeil passed legislation to impose a contract on the province’s 9,600 public school teachers after three tentative agreements recommended by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union executive had been rejected by the membership over a 14-month period.
Heather Fairbairn, spokeswoman for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, said in an emailed statement later Tuesday that any job action would be illegal while the Teachers Provincial Agreement, which is in effect until July 31, 2019, is in place.
“We are disappointed that the union executive is taking this position and ask that it consider how such action would affect students and their families,” the statement said.
Rallies were held across the province by parents and students in support of teachers and against the controversial Bill 75.
“It is a huge step for the teachers’ union to consider this job action,” NDP Leader Gary Burrill said in a news release Tuesday evening. “It demonstrates clearly the depths of their concern over the changes being proposed to our public education system.
“This time last year teachers and supporters marched in the streets in support of improvements to our schools. Stephen McNeil and his Liberal government had the opportunity to change course and have instead recommitted to pitting themselves against parents, students, and teachers.”