Teachers heading back to work next week without a contract

Thousands of Alberta teachers are preparing to head back to the classroom next week even though they won’t have a contract in place.

EDMONTON — Thousands of Alberta teachers are preparing to head back to the classroom next week even though they won’t have a contract in place.

Talks are underway for a new deal, as a long-term contract that brought labour peace to teachers in the province for five years, expires Friday.

Alberta teachers, school boards and the government are taking part in contract discussions and there is hope that a new deal can be reached later this fall.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson says the province has a “pretty good relationship” with the Alberta Teachers’ Association and teachers in Alberta.

Discussions are centerd on the length of the deal, dispute resolution and wages.

Workload is also a big issue for teachers.

“That’s the one that’s been the sticking point for teachers,” said Carol Henderson, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

“That’s the one that we’ve been hearing in the last year.”

Henderson says some teachers work up to 60 hours a week.

Increased workload is due to several factors including new reporting systems and new expectations of the minister, boards, and the school administration.

Despite Thursday’s fiscal message from the Finance Minister — that the province is tightening its belt so others are expected to do the same — Henderson says she doesn’t think the warning will affect teachers.

And while negotiations are ongoing, Henderson says parents shouldn’t have any reason to worry about this coming school year.

“It is business as usual as far we’re concerned because that money is already in the budget for education and its been announced,” she said.

“Parents don’t have any worries, any concerns about withdrawal of services because we’re in the process and we are very committed to the process.”

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