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Teachers likely to strike in fall

Failure to reach agreement with province and BC Teachers' Federation frustrates bargaining practice



Arguing that teaching conditions and compensation packages need to improve, the British Columbia Teachers' Federation has announced their intention to launch job action in September. The BCTF and its locals have been bargaining with the Province and the BC Public School Employers' Association since March but president Susan Lambert said little progress has been made.

"We're facing resistance at both local and provincial tables, with the BC Public School Employers' Association stalling on the split of issues and local trustees refusing to bargain anything of substance," she said. "We believe Premier Clark now has an opportunity to maker her 'families first' agenda real by restoring funding to schools and services this September. After a decade of deteriorating conditions, students should come back to school in September as beneficiaries of the ruling that restores teachers' bargaining rights."

Lambert is referring to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling de-legitimizing Liberal legislation that stripped teachers' contracts and limited their ability to bargain as unconstitutional. In May, Education Minister George Abbott announced that government would not appeal the ruling and appointed Paul Straszak, president and CEO of the Public Sector Employers' Council, to engage with the BCTF on its repercussions.

The BCTF is negotiating with Straszak to urge the government to restore funding levels to make up for the $275 million that they say has been cut since the legislation was changed in 2002. This investment of funding would allow restoration of class-size and composition guarantees and restoration of services to students with special needs.

The vote to strike will be held between June 24 and June 28 of this year.