Media reports have suggested that the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association is considering three options to kick-start stalled labour talks with the province’s teachers. Those options include a cut in pay, a lock out or a transferring of the costs for teachers’ benefits to the union.
School District 27 trustee Pete Penner is the only trustee from the district who was to attend Monday’s meeting. Penner says he knows what the agenda is but has no idea what the outcome might be.
He says this is the first time BCPSEA (the employer) has gathered together to discuss the teachers’ job action that started in September.
He thinks the gathering of BCPSEA trustees is significant considering the cost of bringing officials from across the province for a one-day meeting to discuss the situation.
“It must be something they feel is pretty serious,” he says.
Cariboo Chilcotin Teachers’ Association president Joan Erb says teachers’ representatives and the public school employers have been meeting through the month of September to no avail.
Erb wasn’t speculating about BCPSEA’s course of action following Monday’s meeting, although she says, “We’re hoping, of course, that none of them are going to happen. Our job action — ceasing administrative tasks — went through the Labour Relations Board and now BCPSEA doesn’t seem able to deal with it and now they’re making all these threats and we have been doing exactly what we said we’d be doing. BCPSEA needs to step up to the plate and start dealing with some of the repercussions of what their action has created.”
As part of the job action, teachers will not be completing report cards; however, parents can expect to receive updates orally from their child’s teacher.
Erb says teachers have no plans to take their job action further at this point.
She says any escalation or de-escalation of teachers’ action would require a province-wide vote by members.
Phase two of teachers’ job action could include a rotating strike where different locals are impacted on different days, but Erb says that plan hasn’t yet been decided on.
It is expected the Labour Relations Board would also have to approve any decision made Monday by BCPSEA.