BCTF News Release
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
||March 13, 2006
Teachers set bargaining strategy and objectives
BC teachers are facing a challenging round of contract negotiations, in a context where all parties agree the existing bargaining structures are dysfunctional. Even so, teachers are determined to achieve the changes necessary to defend quality public education, guarantee services to students, and uphold teachers’ rights.
BCTF President Jinny Sims noted that when the current contract expires June 30, 2006, teachers will have been working for four-and-a-half years under legislatively imposed terms and conditions of employment.
"It's essential that we have a negotiated settlement this spring," Sims said. "We simply cannot have another imposed settlement. Our students need stability in their schools. But we are optimistic that with good will on both sides we would quite quickly reach an agreement that meets the needs of teachers and students across BC."
Delegates to the BCTF's 90th Annual General Meeting today endorsed a package of bargaining objectives that are consistent with the goals from last fall’s round of bargaining. These include: restoration of guarantees for students' learning conditions; full, free collective bargaining rights, including the right to strike; respect for professional rights of teachers; and a fair and reasonable salary increase.
"We are still waiting for the government to make good on its commitments made after our strike," Sims said. "BC is facing a growing teacher shortage and so we need to make sure we can recruit the very best into our profession and keep them here. That's going to be difficult if our salaries remain so much lower than those of colleagues in other jurisdictions, such as Alberta and Ontario."
Sims noted that no dates have been set for negotiations, but teachers are eager to get to the bargaining table as soon as possible. If an agreement is not reached before the beginning of June, members of the BCTF Representative Assembly will set a date for a strike vote.
Discussions at Tuesday's meeting will focus on affiliation with the BC Federation of Labour, privatization and commercialization of public education, aboriginal education, and social justice issues, including child poverty.
For more information, please call Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-340-1959.