Nova Scotia’s education minister says regional centers for education across the province and the French language school board have reached a tentative agreement with CUPE for educational support staff, staving off a possible strike by thousands of school support workers.
Minister Becky Druhan said in an interview with the CBC’s Information Morning on Wednesday that the next step is for CUPE members to see the deal and vote on it.
“We hope all along was that the parties would achieve a deal without disruption to learning, and folks at the table worked really hard on this,” he said.
The province won’t make further comments on negotiations until members hear from CUPE’s Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions and have the opportunity to vote, Druhan said. More information about the timeline of the vote should be coming later on Wednesday, she added.
CUPE’s Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions represents approximately 5,400 workers throughout the province. They include bus drivers, cleaners, maintenance staff, educational program assistants and early childhood educators, along with other roles, at seven regional centers for education and the Conseil scolaire academia provincial.
Ratification will take time
The union announced recently that it would be in a strike position as of April 21 if it didn’t reach an agreement with the province and the regional centers for education.
Union president Nan McFadgen previously said a key issue was ensuring wages kept up with the rate of inflation.
During an interview on Information Morning, McFadgen said the union was pleased with the agreement. Like Druhan, he said he was not able to comment on the negotiations or the tentative deal, but the agreement was reached in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“We’re going to take a few moments to breathe and then the work will begin for the ratification meetings and we’ll ramp that up soon,” McFadgen said.
She added that it may be a couple of weeks before the deal is officially ratified.
“We do have 5,400 members to communicate what’s in that tentative agreement. With the communication goes explanation, opportunity for questions,” explained McFadgen. “It’s going to take some time to communicate that to those who want to hear it.”