Saskatchewan Teachers Federation/Facebook

On Jan. 11, the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) voted in favour of strike action to demand an increase in wages and student funding. This was quickly followed by single day strikes on Jan. 16 and on Jan. 22, and rotating strikes beginning on Feb 1. Saskatchewan’s labour movement must mobilize in support of the STF! 

The STF represents 13,500 teachers in the province teaching from pre-K to grade 12. Saskatchewan public teachers have not had a contract with the provincial government since Aug 31, and have been struggling to handle the double burden of decreasing wages and increasing class sizes. 

In regard to wages, the STF is only asking for a rise of two per cent a year, along with a cost of living index adjustment. If this demand is met, it would be teachers’ wages only barely keeping up with the rate of inflation. Anything less would be a cut.

Teachers are also striking over insufficient funding. Per-student funding has not kept up with increasing enrolment, which made Saskatchewan the second worst province for public school funding in 2023. A striking teacher in Saskatoon—and a supporter of Communist Revolution—explained, “Often teachers are having to pay out of pocket for school supplies, due to underfunding, to sustain classrooms, but this isn’t sustainable. As enrollment grows, funding remains constant, meaning something like a decline of $2,700 per student drop in funding.”

They continued, “It’s important for Saskatchewan parents to understand the purpose is not to hurt students but to improve the quality of the schools and we should show support for teachers. We want to work in our chosen field with dignity and respect and be able to care for the children in our charge. It is unfortunate that teachers have to strike for humble goals.” 

The Saskatchewan Party government is offering a three per cent raise in the first year, then two per each year for the next two years. The provincial government has been presenting this as a seven per cent raise, but all added up, these raises are less than the current rate of inflation. In other words, the deal would mean a pay cut for teachers. 

This is incredibly hypocritical, considering that the salaries of Saskatchewan MLAs are already adjusted according to the cost of living! Clearly, Scott Moe and the rest of his cronies don’t think teachers deserve the same standards of living that they do.            

Strike to win! 

At the end of January, the STF decided to escalate the one day strikes into rotating strikes. While it’s good that actions are escalating, the tactic of rotating strikes is generally a mistake. Rotating strikes run the risk of isolating different groups of teachers from one another, and weakening the picket line overall. The best guarantee the STF has at winning its demands is through an all-out mobilization of all its workers! 

It is important to find avenues to unite the struggle of the working class. An injury to one is an injury to all, and in the same vein, a victory for the teachers of Saskatchewan would represent an important step forward for the working class in general. Backing down now would only mean a bad deal from the provincial government. This is the moment to fight for victory!The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour put out a statement in support of the teachers’ strike. However, words are not enough. The struggle of the teachers must be linked up with an all-encompassing struggle against the erosion of the standard of living of workers in all sectors. Solidarity will give workers in Saskatchewan the power to fight against wage cuts and austerity. It is only through a united, militant labour movement that the workers’ can achieve their aims!