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Saskatchewan teachers vote no to tentative contract; union to ask for conciliation

Saskatchewan teachers have rejected a second tentative contract with the government.

The proposed agreement included a total compensation increase of 7.3 per cent over four years, as well as a $700 pro-rated payment in the first year.

But 63 per cent of more than 13,000 teachers voted no to the proposed deal.

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Colin Keess, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, says teachers didn't believe the offer had sufficient resources or did enough to address their concerns.

"We are looking to try to resolve long-standing issues with our partners," Keess said in an interview Monday.

"The issues of the school year (and) school day are intensely important to teachers. Class composition and size, again, are intensely important issues for teachers."

Keess had said in a news release that the federation was concerned that the agreement, "which in our judgment was the best that could be reached at the bargaining table," was not acceptable to teachers.

The federation says it will now apply for conciliation.

The government bargaining committee says it's also disappointed, although committee spokeswoman Connie Bailey said she still hopes a deal can be reached.

"I always prefer to be optimistic and we'd always prefer a negotiated contract. But we both have to take some time to reflect on what we need to do to ensure that the next tentative agreement will be passed," she said.

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The offer was comparable to the terms in other public sector agreements and kept Saskatchewan teachers competitive with other teachers in Western Canada, Bailey said.

Saskatchewan teachers have been without a contract since Aug. 31, 2013.

In British Columbia, a full-scale teachers strike appeared imminent Monday as their union and the government continued to clash despite three days of negotiations.

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