Representatives of the BC Teachers’ Federation were disappointed, but not surprised, to learn yesterday that Education Minister Peter Fassbender has directed representatives of the BC Public School Employers’ Association to break off negotiations and leave the bargaining table.
For the past month, the BCTF has been urging BCPSEA to stay at the table. However, late last evening Fassbender wrote to BCTF President Susan Lambert and President-elect Jim Iker officially confirming the appointment of Peter Cameron as government’s negotiator instead of BCPSEA, and asking the BCTF to meet with government, the employer, the trustees, and Cameron.
“This is a disappointing development because it puts an end to a respectful and constructive round of talks,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert. “Minister Fassbender knows that government representatives have been at the table since February, and they have not tabled any proposals towards a 10-year contract.”
Lambert noted that after five months of respectful negotiations the parties have signed off on some positive changes, including a new process for expedited arbitration which will save both parties time and money. This agreement could see costs associated with arbitrations reduced by up to 70%.
Lambert said: “Teachers, more than anyone, would welcome long-term labour stability in public education. But you cannot achieve labour peace by interfering in a constructive process and locking in current problems for another decade.”
She said the factors that would bring long-term stability to our schools are: increased investment in public education to create smaller classes, provide better support to students, especially those with special needs, and a fair and reasonable salary increase for teachers.