Teachers ‘very far apart’ on deal

It’s been a tumultuous week of gains and setbacks for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

It’s been a tumultuous week of gains and setbacks for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

Despite a Tuesday ruling by the B.C. Labour Relations Board that deemed report cards a non-essential service, the union remains embroiled in stalled contract negotiations as the provincewide teachers strike enters it fourth month.

This week’s ruling came in response to an application made earlier this month by the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, bargaining agent for B.C.’s 60 boards of education.

“It’s a message to our trustees to stop trying to put pressure on teachers and to redirect and focus their attention on the irresponsibility of this government,” said teachers’ federation president Susan Lambert.

Employers’ association vice-president Alan Chell was disappointed in the ruling and the loss of what he called a consistent and important form of feedback.

“The BCTF is on strike and that’s causing pressure on the education system,” he said. “We wanted to put some pressure back on the BCTF with the goal of speeding up the pace of negotiations.

“Without that pressure, we’ll be back at the bargaining table focusing all of our efforts on trying to work toward a deal, but we are very far apart.”

Teachers have been abstaining from administrative duties since the school year began.

Meanwhile, no new agreement on class size and composition was reached before negotiations between the teachers and the Ministry of Education broke down this week. That, despite the fact a B.C. Supreme Court ruling last April found the 2001 removal of class size and composition restrictions in Bill 28 unconstitutional.

“Where we go from here, I don’t really know,” Lambert said. “We have been told that government is crafting what they call corrective legislation, which we expect will be tabled in the new session of the legislature in the middle of February.”

Government put a thoughtful, constructive proposal on the table, backed by a $165-million investment to better support teachers, Education Minister George Abbott said at a press conference Nov. 28.

“At any point, if the teachers’ federation is willing to re-engage on our $165-million-dollar proposal, to talk about how the parties can work together and collaborate on class composition issues, we’d love to sit down with them again. But it needs to be a realistic discussion,” he said. “It can’t involve an additional billion dollars in expenditure at a time when we simply can’t afford that.”

At the time of the Supreme Court ruling, local and provincial teachers’ associations called on the province to immediately infuse the 2011-12 education budget with $275 million, which is the amount the Ministry of Education expected to save annually when class size restrictions were lifted in 2001. A one-year time limit on reaching an agreement was also put in place.

“For government to persist stubbornly in this violation of our collective agreement rights leads me to question what kind of a democracy we live in,” Lambert added. “I just don’t know what else we can do.”

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria City Council approves inclusionary housing policy

After years of back and forth, the policy will be ratified in two weeks

Filipino Heritage Month event takes over Centennial Square

Dancing, music and food highlight Mabuhay Day celebration in Victoria

West Shore residents report finding anti-SOGI 123 flyers in mailboxes

SD62 trustee Ravi Parmar says the flyers are ‘garbage’

Saanich woman runs marathons to make dreams come true

Hempler gutted her way through 122 kms with minimal breaks, to support Help Fill a Dream Foundation

Victoria Weekender: What’s happening this weekend, June 15-16

Car Free YYJ, a barber battle and an Outdoor Discovery Day

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Homalco tour gives glimpse into area’s ‘People, Land, Water’

First Nation business mixes cultural components with wildlife excursions

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read