On Friday evening, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) announced that it had rejected the recommendations laid out in the mediator’s report issued on Nov. 1. (Black Press Media file photo)

BCTF rejects mediator’s recommendations for settlement

Negotiations between B.C. teachers and the province will continue

On Friday evening, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) announced that it had rejected the recommendations laid out in the mediator’s report issued on Nov. 1.

Mediator David Schaub of the Labour Relations Board of British Columbia presented the report containing recommendations for settlement to both the BCTF and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) which represents the province in the negotiations. Schaub asked that both sides come to him with a decision by the end of the day on Friday, Nov. 8.

On Thursday, BCTF president Teri Mooring explained that the main issues teachers in B.C. are facing include a teacher shortage due to low wages and a lack of class size and composition limits. Teachers in B.C. have the lowest starting wages in Canada and the lowest overall maximum wages in Western Canada, she noted. As a result, the province is experiencing a teacher shortage because it’s tough to recruit new teachers and keep ones that are already working in B.C. Teachers are asking for a wage increase that aligns with inflation.

READ ALSO: Saanich teachers honour CUPE picket line while BCTF negotiates for new teacher contract

The province has been offering a 2 per cent raise each year for three years, which Mooring noted does not match inflation. The BCTF acknowledged that a raise of more than 2 per cent would trigger the “me-too” clause that would require other public sector unions to receive the same wage increase. Instead, it was suggested that the B.C. teachers’ salary grid be bumped up and that the starting wage be dropped. This would scale the pay of all teachers up without changing the salary allotment.

“Teachers are seeking the same kind of grid adjustments that other unions like the BCGEU [B.C. Government & Service Employees’ Union] and BCNU [B.C. Nurses’ Union] were able to achieve in this round under the same mandate,” said Mooring in a written statement on Friday.

The BCTF also noted that the mediator’s report did not include recommendations for improvements to class size and composition limits.

Teachers are expected to individually address the learning needs of each student so that they can succeed and to do this, class sizes need to be manageable, Mooring explained.

She noted that teachers have made concessions regarding salary and benefits in past negotiations in an effort to make the student learning environment better by focusing on class size and composition limits. In 2002, language regarding class size and composition was “stripped from the contract” and she feels teachers should be able to negotiate without making concessions about wages and benefits this time around.

In a written statement, BCPSEA board chair Alan Chell said the employer was “surprised and disappointed” that the BCTF did not agree to the mediator’s recommendations.

“Although the mediator’s recommendations didn’t represent BCPSEA’s preferred approach, the board believed they would provide the public school system with the necessary labour stability while we attempted to work with the BCTF.”

READ ALSO: BCTF wins grievance over teacher shortage in public schools

On Thursday, Schaub told Black Press Media that if one or both of the parties don’t agree to the settlement recommendations, dates for future negotiations will be set.

As negotiations continue, both sides have indicated a desire to keep the conversation moving.

“We’re not going to solve 20 years of under-funding all at once, but we need to move forward,” Mooring told Black Press Media on Thursday. “We will work as hard as we can to achieve a deal.”

Negotiations between the BCTF and BCPSEA have been ongoing since February. The previous Provincial Collective Agreement expired on June 30 so B.C. teachers currently have no contract.

Black Press Media reached out to the mediator, but he could not be reached for comment by press time.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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

Just Posted

District closes pool

Cites staffing shortages

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Water movement increased in Houston reservoirs

Measure in response to 2019 boil water notice

Gene Simmons to launch new Titans of Rock music festival in Grand Forks

The rock legend has partnered with Chuck Varabioff to run Titans of Rock in Grand Forks

VIDEO: 17 Husky pups rescued from Interior B.C. property find new homes

The BC SPCA caught the moment on video the last puppy, Uki, met his owners

U.S. officials confirm first case of Wuhan coronavirus near Seattle

The U.S. is the fifth country to report seeing the illness

Housing program to aid Indigenous people travelling far for medical care in northern B.C.

B.C. government launches temporary housing program in Prince George, Fort St. John

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

VIDEO: B.C. mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Most Read