Union membership at centre of renewed labour dispute with Nova Scotia teachers

Nova Scotia's education minister says the provincial government's latest standoff with its 9,000 unionized teachers appears to have more to do with union membership than addressing challenges in the classroom.

Zach Churchill, speaking a day after the Nova Scotia Teachers Union called for an unexpected strike vote, says the main issue "driving opposition" to the Liberal government's proposed education reforms is a proposal to remove principals and vice-principals from the union.

Churchill says the province wants to give more autonomy to principals, who as union members can face a conflict of interest when supervising staff while also receiving directives from the union.

However, union president Liette Doucet says there is no conflict of interest because the province's 1,000 principals and vice-principals are teachers who maintain collegial relationships with those they supervise.

She says only three provinces, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, have separated these administrators from teachers unions.

Doucet says splitting the union membership creates a business-type model, which she says has led to more grievances in the three largest provinces.