Thursday, May 22, 2014

BCTF responds to employer's salary rollback and lockout plans

BCTF President Jim Iker pointed the finger of blame directly at Premier Christy Clark on Thursday, providing his response to the latest developments in the ongoing labour dispute.

The temperature of those negotiations jumped significantly with the release of this letter to the BCTF, as the British Columbia Public School Employers' Association outlined what steps they intend to take in their response to the rotating strikes by the teachers set to start next week.

Those plans, as announced by the BCSPEA would see wage rollbacks put in place with the start of rotating strikes next week, as well as the announcement that secondary school teachers would be locked out as June 25 and 26.

A General lock out would then follow on June 27th.

The lockout will not take place if an agreement is reached and ratified before the 25th of June.

As part of the letter to the BCTF, the employers once again confirmed their offer of a settlement bonus of $1,200 per bargaining unit FTE which would take effect if an agreement is reached and ratified by the end of June.

Mr. Iker provided a stern rebuke of those moves, highlighting the anger that many in his membership have towards the Premier and her Government's approach to labour negotiations.

As we outlined on the blog on Tuesday, the rotating strike schedule announced earlier this week will see School District 52 in Prince Rupert behind picket lines on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, School District 52 posted an advisory to their website, providing background on the local aspect of the dispute and how the School District plans to deliver more information to parents.

During the course of his reply to the employers association, Mr. Iker took aim at the lock out plans of the Government, suggesting that extra curricular activities, concerts, final marks from final exams and graduation ceremonies could all be affected as part of the lock out declaration from the Government.

He also outlined how the lockout declaration for the end of June would result in teachers no longer being able to help students at lunch and would limit their ability to talk to parents.

He expressed his frustration with the current state of discussions and the impact that the government moves will have on teachers and students:

"Christy Clark is stripping students of the valuable one on one time that they have with their teachers "  ..."This Government is so desperate to attack teachers, that now they are putting student academics, well being and extra curricular activities at risk"

The BCTF clearly has decided to target the Premier, frequently referring to the latest shift in the labour dynamic as "Christy Clark's lockout".

A shift of attention that is not surprising, as past discussions have indicated that the Premier is a lightning rod for a significant number of the BCTF membership.

As he was closing out his remarks, the BCTF President again touched on the frequent theme from the Teachers, that of seeking a resolution to the "real issues of education, underfunding, cuts to specialized teachers, class size, class composition" 

He called on the Provincial government to: "own up to their mistakes, their record of bad faith bargaining and put a fair deal on the table, smaller classrooms, more supports for children with special needs, extra one on one time with all kids and a fair wages"

The two sides return to the bargaining table later this afternoon, though the current escalation of emotions might make for little in the way of progress in the short term.

The BCTF head urged parents to contact their MLA to put pressure on the Liberal government to review its bargaining stance and the impact it will have on students.

A video archive of Mr. Iker's response can be found here. When the BCTF posts an information release on today's talking points, it will be posted here.

In follow up questions from reporters following his presentation, Mr. Iker also outlined how his membership had concerns over the growing gap in salaries between British Columbia and other provinces.

As for the pending salary cuts with the start of rotating strikes, the BCTF is taking its case to the Labour Relations Board on May 29th, looking for a resolution to those concerns.

The BCPSEA issued its own press release on Thursday as well, providing a Question and Answer format to outline some of its own points on the issues.

An interesting review of the emotional impact of the labour dispute can be found through the #bced twitter feed, which is providing for much in the way of information and comment on the ongoing labour dispute.

It provides a glimpse into some of the debate in the province when it comes to education and the current dispute.

We have been keeping an archive on the fast pace of developments on the Teacher's dispute.  We update that archive regularly through the day, you can review the latest news on the issues here.

For items related to education on the North Coast see our Archive page here.


May 22- 12:30 PM-- The BCPSEA issued its own press release on Thursday as well, providing a Question and Answer format to outline some of its own points on the issues. You can review their contribution to the dispute here.

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