The Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the provincial government are sitting down at the bargaining table for a fourth time on Saturday, hoping to work out an agreement.

“We are looking for some resolve to this issue. Our members want a contract,” said teachers union president Liette Doucet on Wednesday.

The deal expired in July of 2015, with the two sides first working out a tentative agreement last November.

“I can't say I was surprised about the outcome given what I was hearing from the membership,” said former NSTU president Shelly Morse.

Rank-and-file teachers rejected that deal, with teachers saying it did nothing to address classroom conditions. In the process, it became the first union to reject government's wage pattern.

“Everyone knows that one of the things government always has the ability to do is to legislate,” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. 

Government did pass legislation nearly a year ago – a bill that if enacted could impose a wage pattern on public sector unions.

This fall, a second tentative agreement was rejected and the union voted in favour of strike action. Teachers began working to rule last Tuesday after government backed down on a threat to shut schools and legislate a deal.

Doucet and Education Minister Karen Casey declined interview requests on Friday

Dalhousie University professor Lars says tense labour relations in Nova Scotia have a lot to do with the current government.

“It's just one of those things that governments are supposed to do, is come to some sort of deal with the unions,” Osberg said. “That heavy-handed approach, coming in from the top and saying, ‘This is what you're going to get, like it or lump it.’”

The province's largest union is hopeful a change is coming. 

The Nova Scotia Government Employees Union voted this week to reject a deal that was struck more than a year ago. The union is headed back to negotiations with the government on Monday.

“It's been three years of turmoil for everybody in this province and I'm quite optimistic that something can be done next week,” said NSGEU President Jason MacLean.

Each union has set aside only one day for negotiations, saying more time can be scheduled if needed.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.