by Ted Goodman
“Santa Claus” ran into trouble with a local Canadian labor union after attempting to bring some Christmas treats to a Nova Scotia elementary school this week.
Three firefighters, including one dressed as Santa, showed up to a local elementary school in New Waterford, Novia Scotia, when a union representative forced the cheerful trio to leave the premises.
“The principal came out and just informed us she had been contacted by a representative from the union. Someone had called the union I guess and … she was told we were in violation of the work to rule and we had to leave,” Raymond Eksal, fire chief of the Scotchtown Volunteer Fire Department in eastern Nova Scotia (Northwest of Maine) told the Toronto Star.
Burdensome union regulations will only delay Christmas, and may cost some of the children some very special treats. Teachers and school officials have been locked in a bitter labor dispute, which is what ostensibly led to the dismissal of “Santa.”
Teachers in the province, represented by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, are in the third week of a “work-to-rule” campaign, which includes the cancellation of all extracurricular activities, field trips, concerts and sports. Teachers are only supposed to focus on teaching, which means no guests in the classroom, including the big jolly red man himself.
“We knew that the [local Christmas concert] was cancelled due to the work-to-rule, which we could understand … but I guess there was something lost in the translation,” Eksal said. “We didn’t realize it was also cancelling Santa Claus,” he explained.
“During work-to-rule, teachers are only focused on teaching. This means guest speakers are not permitted in the classroom,” Liette Doucet, a representative of the union, said to the Star newspaper. Someone at the school classified Santa as nothing more than a “guest speaker.”
“That being said, at the discretion of the school board, there is nothing preventing Santa from visiting the students during their lunch hour,” Doucet assured the public and concerned parents.
The firefighters have been visiting schools in the area to deliver Christmas treats for about 60 years, Eksal said.
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