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.

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake GMHL expansion questions, concerns, to be discussed later this month

If approved, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler comes off a night shift on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Our Hometown: The doctor is in the house

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler was born and raised in Williams Lake

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read