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Teachers’ Federation signs agreement

Representatives of the BC Teachers’ Federation signed an agreement-in-committee with government’s bargaining agent, the BC Public School Employers’ Association. The BCTF Executive Committee is recommending ratification.

“After a long and difficult round of negotiations, we were compelled into this process under threat of huge fines and further punitive legislation,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert.

“We have been able to achieve some modest improvements but, above all, we succeeded in getting government take its concession demands off the table,” Lambert said, adding that no other public sector union was subject to such an attack on due process and fair treatment.

“We’ve concluded this agreement in order to prevent government from imposing a contract that would further erode teachers’ hard-won rights and do more harm to students’ learning conditions,” Lambert said.

The agreement leaves important matters unresolved. The agreement provides for no improvements to class size and composition. Despite the BC Supreme Court ruling that Bills 27 and 28 are unconstitutional and invalid, government refused to redress this legislation, which stripped teachers’ collective agreements, restricted their bargaining rights, and eliminated provisions for class size and composition, as well as staffing ratios for specialist teachers who served students with special needs.

Lambert emphasized that BC teachers will never give up advocating strongly for the funding, resources, and conditions that will enable them to meet the needs of all students.

The agreement does nothing to address the wide gap between BC teachers’ salaries and those in other regions of the country. BC teachers had wage freezes, which are, in fact, wage cuts due to inflation, imposed in 2004–05 and 2005–06, and now again for 2011–12 and 2012–13.

Going into this round of negotiations we were the lowest-paid teachers in Western Canada and also lagged behind Ontario. Now we will fall even further behind, despite living in the province with the highest cost of living in the country,” Lambert said.

“We are required to open negotiations again in just eight months, and we will once again be looking for fair treatment at the bargaining table and long awaited improvements for our members and our students,” Lambert said.

Teachers across the province will have cast their ballots this week with results of the ratification vote to be announced in the evening of June 29, the last day of the 2011–12 school year.

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