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

UPDATE: Rockslide keeps Coquihalla northbound lane closed

Highway 5 is closed in one direction.

UPDATE: Wind warning ends for Metro Vancouver after thousands lose power

More than 34,000 BC Hydro customers in the dark on Sunday morning in the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast

WIND WARNING: Metro Vancouver expecting 100 km/h gusts Saturday night

Environment Canada issues warns of possibly dangerous conditions

Agassiz tech training to connect generations

Upcoming event will have youth teaching technology to older residents

UPDATE: 24-year-old Lovepreet Dhaliwal ID’d as victim in targeted Abbotsford shooting

Location of shooting the same as where innocent bystander Ping Shun Ao killed in 2015

Week in Review – January 19

Movie filming, water upgrades and more

5 to start your day

Wind storm causes weekend power outages, thousands join women’s marches, and more

A look at potential Canadian nominees for this year’s Oscars

The nominations are to be revealed Tuesday morning for the 90th Academy Awards

B.C. expert weighs in on why kids are eating Tide pods for fun

Why are kids taking part in something completely pointless yet so risky?

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Coquihalla drivers prepare for snow

Wintry conditions persist, with snow warnings for Coquihalla

Most Read