The province and the Teachers Union are heading back to the bargaining table today after Education Minister Karen Casey announced late Saturday both sides had reached an impasse. The union says conciliation talks are resuming under a media blackout. As a result, it’s not clear how long the talks are scheduled or which side approached the other about getting back together. Teachers have already rejected two tentative agreements in contract talks that have gone on for more than a year. They’re now working to rule and that means extra-curricular activities including field trips and sports are cancelled. The long-running Coal Bowl basketball tournament in New Waterford has been cancelled this year because of the job action. Working conditions remains the main sticking point in the dispute with pay and the proposed elimination of long-service awards also being issues.
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Cape Breton singer/songwriter Johnathan MacInnis is due in court today to enter pleas on sex charges involving a boy under the age of 16. The 22 year-old from Northside East Bay faces counts of sexual assault, sexual interference involving a person under the age of 16 and invitation to sexual touching involving a person under the age of 16. He’s accused of committing the crimes between August and November. MacInnis has been released from custody on a number of conditions. He released his first album in 2009 at the age of 14 and was part of the group the Cape Breton Tenors.
The Arca 1 has been removed from the shore. Coast Guard spokesperson Stephen Bornais told The Coast McKeil Marine went onboard the vessel at around 6:45 am to prepare it for tow. Bornais went on to say it was successfully towed into deeper water at roughly 10:00 am. The vessel will be heading to Sydney Harbour for an inspection. The Arca 1 ran aground near Little Pond last Sunday after its engines failed. The boat was sailing from Montreal to Mexico. Ottawa says the Mexican company that owns the ship is responsible for removal costs.
The faculty association at Cape Breton University has issued a strike notice in the wake of its meeting, yesterday afternoon. The union says it will call for a strike to begin on January 23rd if a deal isn't reached by January 21st. The association has been in a legal strike position since December 26th and a strike or lockout can happen with 48 hours notice. The main issue in the contract dispute is a so-called layoff clause. Faculty Association spokesperson Andrew Reynolds says layoffs would be prompted if CBU faces a seven percent deficit. He adds seven percent is too low a threshold and goes on to say that raises concerns layoffs will be a response of first resort rather than an extraordinary measure. He also says seven percent is in line with the 3.5 million dollar shortfall CBU is forecasting in the next two and a half years.
The price of gas took a bigger drop than forecast, overnight. Gas fell by 5.5 cents a litre and now goes for a minimum of $1.11.8 in Cape Breton. Diesel went down by 3.7 cents and now costs a minimum of $1.09.7 cents a litre on the Island.