B.C. on collision course with teachers

BCTF president Susan Lambert is flanked by teacher local representatives from all 60 school districts at the union's convention in Victoria Monday.

The only negotiated contract the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has ever signed is running out June 30, and prospects for a new one are growing dimmer.

At a news conference at the union’s annual convention in Victoria on Monday, BCTF president Susan Lambert refused to specify how large a salary increase the executive will propose as negotiations get underway. But she said B.C. teachers have fallen from third highest-paid in Canada to eighth since 2006.

“For example, a beginning teacher working in Golden right now, right on the B.C.-Alberta border, makes almost $10,000 a year less than a beginning teacher in Banff,” Lambert said. “At the top of the scale it’s even worse. An experienced teacher in Banff earns more than $16,000 a year more than a teacher with the same credentials in Golden.”

Lambert called on the B.C. government to change the “net zero” compensation mandate imposed two years ago when the province was hit by a global recession.

Education Minister George Abbott said Monday the net zero mandate applies to the BCTF as well as other unions. The restriction that wage increases can only be approved if they are offset by other savings has produced agreements with about two thirds of provincial employees so far, he said.

“I appreciate that will perhaps make discussions with the teachers’ federation a challenging one, but I think there are a great many issues that we can discuss in relation to both the student performance within the B.C. education system and the teacher satisfaction within the B.C. education system,” Abbott said.

The BCTF signed its current five-year deal when the provincial government was in surplus and offering signing bonuses to all the government unions. Teachers got signing bonuses of $3,700 with another $1,000 each for a settlement longer than three years, as well as pay and benefits increases totalling 16 per cent over five years.

It was the only time since the BCTF was turned into a union by the Social Credit government in the 1980s that a contract was negotiated rather than imposed by legislation, usually after a strike in public schools.

Lambert said a recent survey of teachers shows that class size and special needs support, not money, is the top issue for teachers. The BCTF is awaiting a ruling from the B.C. Supreme Court this spring on its challenge to legislation that removed class size and support staff levels from the teacher contract.

In addition to the legal action, the union still has “tens of thousands” of grievances in process over individual class size and composition in schools across the province, Lambert said.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Historic railway equipment moved to Revelstoke museum

The Selkirk Spreader was built specifically for Revelstoke in 1931 and retired in 2005

Columbia-Shuswap governments promised voice in caribou recovery

Population of Frisby-Boulder herd northeast of Sicamous at 11 animals and declining

Kootenay-Columbia incumbent MP responds to Trudeau brownface scandal

Stetski proud of NDP leader Singh’s reaction, which focused on people not power

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Climate protesters temporarily shut down road in downtown Kelowna

Protesters are demanding politicans take action to stop climate change

Vehicle taken by gunpoint in South Okanagan carjacking recovered

Penticton RCMP said the criminal investigation remains very active and ongoing

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

Most Read