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

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

North Coast First Nation chief says one major oil spill could ruin economy forever

Chief Marilyn Slett of Heiltsuk Nation near Bella Bella is leading a delegation in Ottawa this week

How to decide what to vote for in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots are due at Elections BC on Friday, Dec. 7, at 4:30 p.m.

Northern Health investigates racist posts of possible employee

Facebook comments call for segregated health authorities

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on America’s request

Natural gas rates will go up in B.C. on Jan. 1

Regions could pay up to $68 more

Top House Dems raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump

It could be an “impeachable offense” if it’s proven that President Donald Trump directed illegal hush-money payments to women during the 2016 campaign.

Macron addresses France amid protests; is it too late?

Paris monuments reopened, cleanup workers cleared debris and shop owners tried to put the city on its feet again Sunday.

Most Read