Teacher talks begin with arbitration

The B.C. Public School Employers' Association applied to the labour board for a ruling expected by Friday, saying the B.C. Teachers' Federation continues to try to negotiate provincial issues such as class size and staffing ratios at local district bargaining tables.

Education Minister George Abbott set a friendly tone by joining union president Susan Lambert at the BCTF convention in Victoria in March. It didn't last long.

VICTORIA – A tangle of technical issues is being sorted through by the B.C. Labour Relations Board this week as public school teachers and their employers prepare for another disputed school year.

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) applied to the labour board for a ruling expected by Friday on the scope of province-wide bargaining issues. The employer says the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has failed to present a full set of proposals at the provincial table.

“The BCTF continues to attempt to negotiate provincial matters and matters that may not be bargained at this time (including class size, class composition and staffing ratios) at local tables,” BCPSEA said in a bargaining bulletin.

In June, teachers voted 90 per cent in favour of a strike mandate. In July, BCTF negotiators tabled demands including wage parity with other provinces, doubled bereavement leave to provide 10 days paid leave on the death of a friend or relative, increased preparation time and a retirement bonus that would give departing teachers an extra five per cent payout for each year worked.

BCPSEA says the pay demand would mean a 21 per cent raise for some teachers to match Alberta rates. It calculates that the entire package of demands would cost an extra $2.2 billion.

The B.C. government has settled contracts with a majority its unionized staff this year, working within a “net zero” budget mandate. Education Minister George Abbott has repeatedly indicated that the same mandate applies to teacher talks, with any extra costs offset by savings in other contract areas.

BCTF president Susan Lambert says without a negotiated settlement by the time school begins Sept. 6, teachers will start phase one of strike action by refusing all non-essential duties.

The relationship between the two sides is reflected in an LRB arbitration handed down Aug. 5. The BCTF accepts that taking attendance is an essential service, but tried to refuse to send attendance information to the school office, even though this may involve no more effort than pushing the send button on a computer.

The LRB refused the request for a second time. The board decided that both monitoring attendance and sending in the results represent a safety issue, and ruled that teachers can’t refuse it and force a management person to collect the data.

Just Posted

Stellar Haze offers up ‘organic rock’ at Memorial Park

Trio hitting the stage for their first live performance this Friday

RCMP, ERT attending incident at Cheam First Nation

Few details are available about the incident, which saw more than a dozen police cars attend

Chiefs kick off exhibition pre-season stint at Hope Arena

Catch the Chilliwack Chiefs on the ice as they prepare for fresh season

Annual Peters family ball tournament draws a dozen teams to Hope ball diamonds

Recently upgraded field at the Schkam reserve the backdrop for this year’s event

Kent quarry opposition receives federal support

Green Party leader Elizabeth May wrote to the provincial government to oppose the quarry application

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

North Van music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Most Read