Cumberland County teachers on their way to Halifax

To participate in massive rally at Province House


Published on February 17, 2017

AMHERST, N.S. – A group of Cumberland County teachers are on their way to Halifax to participate in a massive demonstration against the provincial government.

Two busloads, carrying approximately 125 teachers, left the Amherst Centre Mall parking lot to participate in the rally that will include teachers from across Nova Scotia.

When you walk away from your job every day with the feeling you couldn’t do this, this and this, it’s a feeling that’s so discouraging and so hard on your mental wellness. Teachers are feeling the pressure of dropping balls every day. The system has been broken for every year and is now in a position of crisis, Wade VanSnick, Cumberland NSTU president

Another 125 or so teachers are expected to rally between noon and 3 p.m. today at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Robie Street in Amherst.

The teachers are participating in a one-day strike as the provincial government forces through legislation that will impose a contract on them after teachers rejected the last proposed contract just over a week ago.

“Today is a very sad day because we’re being told what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it by this government which has no idea what’s going on in schools today. They think they’re the experts but they really don’t know what teachers are facing and what students are facing as well,” Cumberland NSTU Local president Wade VanSnick said.

VanSnick said teachers are rallying because government is taking away their collective rights. He said teachers have tried to bargain in good faith and for government to impose a contract is probably the most drastic thing it could do.

The local president said teachers in Cumberland County are unified. He said his membership is mystified by comments from both Premier Stephen McNeil and Cumberland North MLA that the classroom is suffering because of work-to-rule.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “I was really disheartened by the fact that every time that was stated in the media, no one challenged the question by asking ‘Tell me, how were classrooms suffering’ because classrooms were actually far better off during work-to-rule than they’ve been the last number of years.”

Teachers, he said, found work-to-rule hard at first but after a few weeks they realized conditions were much better and they had more time to plan good lessons and teach without having 101 other balls in the air that they have to do at the same time.

While government has indicated the cost of giving teachers what they want is not possible, VanSnick said it can’t afford not to make the changes because the system is broken and children are the ones suffering.

“When you walk away from your job every day with the feeling you couldn’t do this, this and this, it’s a feeling that’s so discouraging and so hard on your mental wellness,” he said. “Teachers are feeling the pressure of dropping balls every day. The system has been broken for every year and is now in a position of crisis.”