Vancouver: After a full year of bargaining and more than 40 sessions at the table, BC teachers have called for a strike vote to push back against major concession demands, an unfair salary offer, and a deliberately confrontational attempt to reverse the recent BC Supreme Court decision on class size, composition, and staffing levels, said BCTF President Jim Iker. Addressing the press in Vancouver on Tuesday, Jim stated that BC has worst student educator ratio. We have students learning in overcrowded shops. Along with teachers, BC Kids are short changed. The government is appealing BC Supreme Court’s ruling, it shows total disrespect for law, teachers and students. The government has broken the law, the constitution, twice. But, they continue to put their own political agenda before students. For 12 years’ teachers have fought for their rights, and students’ rights , but government is trying to run the BC school system into chaos, it is acting needlessly confrontational. Government wants teachers to accept a 10 year term but teachers have rejected it with 96 percent vote.
BCTF says Christy Clark proposes nothing for teachers. Her government is unreasonable, provocative. The government is bargaining in bad faith. Bargaining is about moving forward and not backward. Jim said, “Strike vote will take place on March 4, 5 and 6 and results will be announced on the evening of March 6. BCTF will have 90 days to decide on job action. In the initial action there will be no immediate school closures. Govt. is bent on freezing wages and not honouring BC Supreme Court’s decision. We want fair deal for teachers and better support for students.” He also added, “Despite strike vote we will be at the bargaining table and continue to bargain for the future of the teachers.” BCPSEA has tabled proposals since January 27, when the BC Supreme Court released its ruling that found the Christy Clark government had acted in bad faith. “The move to once again strip class size, composition, and staffing levels from te
achers’ just days after the BC Supreme Court’s ruling showed total disrespect for the law, for teachers, and for students,” said Iker. “This government, through BCPSEA, is trying to pretend Justice Griffin’s ruling never happened. Their proposal to eliminate class size, class composition, and staffing levels would ‘supersede and replace all previous articles that addressed class size,
composition, and staffing levels.” On the salary front, BCPSEA’s offer means BC teachers are being asked to take up to two more years of zeros after no salary increases in 2011–12 and 2012–13 which is unacceptable to BC Teachers.
Last month Justice Susan Griffin awarded the BCTF $2 million in damages for stripping teachers of their collective bargaining rights and failing to reinstate them when ordered by the court. In her ruling Judge stated that the province had violated teachers’ Constitutional rights in an ongoing dispute between the government and B.C. teachers federation. But days after the ruling Christy Clark denied that her government had any role in provoking teachers’ strike. She insisted that her government “absolutely did not” try to provoke a teachers’ strike as suggested by the judge. When Asian Journal spoke to Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender on the proposed Strike vote he said, “I’m disappointed– disappointed because I have constantly said our goal as government is to stay at the table, to find a negotiated settlement, to resolve the issues at the table. So for me, I think this is very provocative as far as our process in bargaining goes, and I am disappointed on behalf of the people in British Columbia that this strike vote was called. But it’s also one of the things that happen in bargaining. I think we just have to allow it to take its course, and we’re committed to staying at the table, to finding a negotiated settlement.” Rob Fleming, Education critic of NDP spoke with Asian Journal and said he was very disappointed with the government. After being proven of violating the constitution on two occasions and trying to provoke a full scale strike, they are still not ready to come to the table in good faith and sort this out. He said, “The government has created crisis similar to 2011-12. Instead of negotiating they have been trying to pass controversial law. It’s a road they have been going on for a while and now they have hit a dead end. What government needs to do is to sit in good faith with the teachers and reach a solution. But instead of listening to courts they are again up to their old tricks. The current situation is very delicate; it needs sincere leadership which is lacking.