Contentious teaching plan draws union ire
B.C. Premier Christy Clark interacts with Ecole Elementaire K.B. Woodward Elementary School students in Surrey, British Columbia, January 24, 2013, (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
Teachers may soon be allowed to strike again under a provincial government proposal, but their union says there wouldn’t be anything to walk out for if Victoria’s plan for a decade-long contract is set in stone.
On Thursday, Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Don McRae launched a “surprise” plan that both claim will end labour “animosity” that makes its way into classrooms and affects students.
It boils down to a 10-year agreement where wage increases would be indexed to 2% annually. In addition, an “education council,” made up of teachers and other stakeholders, would be created to replace the current bargaining table. The council will receive $100 million to allocate.
BC Teachers Federation president Susan Lambert expressed concern the province will force the matter. One particular union concern is salaries won’t be indexed to compensation outside B.C.
Any work stoppage after the provincial agreement, however, would be toothless as wage and classroom-size increases would be fixed for 10 years, Lambert said.
The BCTF and school boards around the province were set to ratify their own bargaining framework the day after Thursday’s announcement.
Vancouver School Board chairwoman Patti Bacchus said giving teachers the ability to strike is a good thing. She echoed many of Lambert’s concerns and accused the B.C. government of “bargaining with the media.”