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

Experiment from Ballenas students heads to International Space Station

Entries from 23 countries; Ballenas is one of 11 schools chosen in Canada

Public hearing set for affordable housing development in Parksville

Council passes two bylaws, eyes 130 Shelly Rd. as affordable housing units for families

No injuries reported in five-vehicle pileup in Nanoose Bay

Traffic slowed briefly on Monday afternoon

Christmas program creating tradition for PQB single mother and daughter

‘It just makes all the difference for your child to smile and laugh on Christmas morning’

PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer cash, root beer and hand sanitizer

Oceanside RCMP receive 249 complaints in one-week period

B.C. woman charged in connection to stolen vehicle smash-up in Kamloops

Kersten Ina Peters was arrested in the Fraser Valley on Friday, Dec. 6

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

The Russell Troupe finds a comfort zone in small Island community

Family gathering with two parents and five kids a common scene around Chemainus

Dogs and cat rescued in house fire in Nanaimo

Section of Old Victoria Road was closed to traffic Tuesday afternoon

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Most Read