UPDATED: BCTF calls vote on B.C. bargaining

The B.C. Teachers' Federation is holding a member vote this week, seeking a mandate to reject "government interference"

Outgoing BCTF president Susan Lambert and president-elect Jim Iker

VICTORIA – The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is holding a member vote this week, seeking a mandate to reject “government interference” in province-wide bargaining.

Outgoing BCTF president Susan Lambert notified 40,000 public school teachers of the vote in a letter sent out Monday, a copy of which was obtained by Black Press. Teachers have until Friday to vote.

“We need to send a strong message to government that teachers will not accept a 10-year scheme to lock in another decade of deteriorating conditions,” Lambert wrote. “The ballot will read: ‘Do you support our bargaining team and their efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement, and oppose any government interference in the bargaining process? Yes or No’.”

The vote signals a reversal of the BCTF position on bargaining. In a submission to the government in December 2012, the union called for “provincial bargaining between the BCTF and government regarding salary, benefits, hours of work, paid leaves, class size, class composition, and staffing levels for specialist teachers,” and “local bargaining of all other items.”

BCTF president-elect Jim Iker acknowledged Wednesday that the union called for direct bargaining on provincial issues late last year, but negotiated a new “bargaining framework” with the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association in January.

“This ‘agreement in committee’ allowed bargaining to move forward in a quiet, out-of-the-media-spotlight manner and meetings began in February,” Iker said. “The talks since have been the most constructive talks in years and that’s why teachers are hoping the provincial government does not interfere.”

The province-wide vote follows Monday’s announcement by Education Minister Peter Fassbender that he has asked for a “pause” in bargaining, to appoint a direct government negotiator for province-wide issues with a goal of reaching a 10-year deal. With the current two-year agreement due to expire June 30, negotiators for the BCTF and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, representing school districts, have been ongoing since February.

“We are not walking away from the table, we are walking toward it,” Fassbender said. “The work that has been done to date will not be lost. In fact, we want to build on it.”

A BCTF spokesman said the government request for a “pause” has been withdrawn, and talks continued Wednesday with BCTF and BCPSEA representatives.

 

Just Posted

Remains of two people found in Ucluelet

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to Ryan Daley or Dan Archbald

Merville water bottling proposal heading to public hearing

A contentious business proposal in Merville will be going to a public… Continue reading

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

Fish farm protest held in Comox

The rally took place on Comox Avenue, concluding at the entry to the BC Seafood Festival

Tales from MusicFest: Women of the Festival

Many sensational female acts at this year’s Vancouver island MusicFest

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

North Island College gets $328,000 for forestry education funding

Announcement in Campbell River part of $1 million around B.C.

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Border officials argue B.C. man’s Facebook posts threat to Canada’s security

A B.C. Supreme Court judge acquitted Othman Hamdan of terrorism charges last September

Reena Virk’s mother has died

Both of Virk’s parents became activists against bullying in wake of daughters’ death

Search for capsized fishers near Tofino enters fourth day

“There’s a lot of shock in the community in terms of how we could end up at this place.”

B.C. announces $75M to help friends, family care for seniors at home

Funding will go towards respite care and adult day programs

Timely tide attracts another pod of orcas to Victoria

The pod left the harbour about 30 minutes later

Most Read