11/25/2016 13:43 EST | Updated 11/26/2017 00:12 EST

Talks break off between teachers and Nova Scotia, job action possible Dec. 5

HALIFAX — The union that represents 9,000 public school teachers says job action is likely after contract talks with the Nova Scotia government broke off Friday.

A news release from Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Liette Doucet said they are disappointed an agreement could not be reached. She says strike action is likely Dec. 5, and more information will be released next week.

"The government invited us back to the bargaining table but remains unwilling to negotiate working conditions into our collective agreement," Doucet said in the statement Friday evening.

"Teachers have been crystal clear. They want real, concrete improvements to the system. They want to teach, not more empty promises and rhetoric."

The two sides agreed to meet this week with a conciliator ahead of a looming strike deadline, following failed attempts in recent weeks to convene a conciliation board and to take the dispute to mediation.

Education Minister Karen Casey said last month that negotiations had run their course.

A statement from Premier Stephen McNeil on Friday evening said the teachers put forward a contract the province cannot afford.

"The union tabled an unrealistic proposal that would have cost taxpayers close to $500 million. This is simply not acceptable," said McNeil.

"I am disappointed that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union has walked away from the negotiating table and that a collective bargaining agreement could not be reached."

The province warned parents earlier this week they should start making plans in case their children aren't in class after Dec. 5.

The teachers are in a legal strike position as of Dec. 3, making Dec. 5 the first day of school that could be impacted by job action.

The government has said the Nova Scotia Teachers Union must give 48 hours notice of job action.

The union membership has twice rejected a contract offer that the union executive recommended, and voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike.