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New Brunswick Teachers' Federation co-presidents Connie Keating and Nathalie Brideau speak during a news conference on May 11, 2023. Image: Ryley Roach

N.B. teachers head to conciliation in June

By Brad Perry May 11, 2023 | 1:27 PM

New Brunswick teachers are heading to conciliation to try and reach a collective agreement, the New Brunswick Teachers’ Federation (NBTF) said Thursday.

The announcement followed a weeks-long lemon-themed awareness campaign calling on the government to “stop the squeeze” on education.

NBTF, which represents the province’s 9,000 teachers, said they want to see compensation and working conditions that are reflective of today’s realities.

Kerry Loepkey, executive director of the federation, said he hopes the conciliation board will help both sides move forward in the negotiations.

“The NBTF is entering into this phase of bargaining in good faith with the intention of reaching a deal,” said Loepkey. “Our goal would be to reach a tentative agreement by the end of the school year.”

Loepkey said the two sides are scheduled to meet from June 3 to 5 and again on June 17 and 18.

Teachers in New Brunswick have been without a collective agreement for more than two years.

According to NBTF, the two sides exchanged their asking packages last June and have met for a total of 22 days of negotiations since Sept. 21.

The federation said the two per cent annual increase offered by the government does not consider current inflation rates and will not address recruitment and retention issues.

NBTF members also raised concerns about what they described as an ultimatum presented by the government where schools would remain open during inclement weather but no buses would be running.

“How would this impact the rights of all children to access education, including those who are the most vulnerable and face additional barriers?” said Connie Keating, co-president of the federation.

Keating, who is also president of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association, assured parents and students that there will not be any job action over the coming weeks.

“Teachers are committing to a strong finish to the school year, which will not be impacted by job action. This means all school events and activities will take place as planned,” said Keating.

“If an agreement cannot be reached through the conciliation process, the start of the school year may be impacted.”

NBTF said a strike vote will be held by its members if a tentative agreement is not reached before Aug. 28.

But Keating said they are committed to finding a solution at the bargaining table and not on the picket lines.

She said NBTF will put its rallies on hold during the conciliation process as a good-faith gesture.

Huddle reporter Ryley Roach contributed to this story. Huddle is a content-sharing partner of Acadia Broadcasting.


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