B.C. Teachers’ Federation calls strike voteFebruary 25, 2014
There was more bad news Tuesday about the sour relationship between the B.C. government and the province’s public-school teachers. The full story can be found here (Vancouver Sun) and here (CBC), but the key points are as follows:
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation intends to hold a strike vote March 4-6, saying government has offered only a tiny wage increase, is demanding contract concessions and has no plan for restoring caps on class size and composition as ordered by the court. (Government is appealing that ruling and has asked for a stay in the meantime.)
There’s no doubt the union will get a strike mandate from members, but that doesn’t necessarily mean classes will be disrupted. President Jim Iker said the union has 90 days to initiate job action and it would happen in stages. The first steps would not see a disruption of classes, extracurricular activities or communications with parents, he added.
Government is still pressing for a 10-year deal, even though the union says it is a no-go.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender called the strike vote “provocative” and the government’s chief negotiator Peter Cameron said the union has yet to table a wage proposal but added that the hints it’s dropped suggest it will be “extreme”.
BCCPAC president Terry Berting expressed concern about the developments Tuesday, saying: “Parents recognize the need for an injection of funding into the system. But we are very upset that negotiations are taking place in the media again because that undermines bargaining.”
Furthermore, he said the over-the-top rhetoric, which has come to characterize the government-union relationship, has got to stop.
There was no immediate word from the B.C. School Trustees’ Association but earlier this month, it published a statement urging the two sides to settle the class size/composition dispute at the bargaining table without disturbing class organizations this year. If there are changes in future, they should be phased in and fully funded by government, the association says.
Contract talks, which began a year ago, are scheduled to resume next week.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC.