Victoria teachers grudgingly accept provincial contract

Job action this September unlikely but not completely ruled out

B.C. teachers officially reached a collective agreement with the province, but if the decision fell solely in the hands of Victoria teachers, they would remain without a contract.

Members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation have voted to ratify the agreement made on June 26, 2012 with the government’s bargaining agent, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association. In a province-wide vote conducted June 27 to 29, 21,044 teachers cast ballots and 75 voted yes.

Local vote results, while confidential, are considerably different, said Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association president Tara Ehrcke.

“I’m disappointed, myself,” Ehrcke said. “The Victoria vote was different from the provincial vote. We had significantly different numbers in terms of turnout and the ratification numbers.”

Ehrcke expects more disappointment from more GVTA members. All teachers voted confidentially, but the GVTA executive had made a recommendation to its members not to ratify the agreement.

“However, a vote’s a vote and we will certainly abide with the will of the majority and we’ll be looking at the next round of bargaining, and primarily the issues of class size and composition and a fair salary increase,” Ehrcke said. “It wasn’t an agreement anyone was celebrating over.”

Just 52 per cent of teachers participated in the vote – a number Ehrcke attributes to its timing at the end of the year when teachers are tired and busy tying up lose ends.

The agreement includes some improvements to benefits for three-quarters of the province, including teachers in School District 61, as the province moves towards a standardized model.

“As some teachers have remarked, the extra $50 every two years for eyeglasses will take you a few decades even to get you back the three days pay you lost while you were on strike. When we say minor improvements, they are minor.”

Job action this September, while unlikely Ehrcke said, hasn’t been completely ruled out.

“Throughout 80 bargaining sessions, government refused to budge from net zero and persisted in demanding the elimination of hard-won labour rights and fair process provisions around post and fill, and transfer and recall,” said Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation, in a release. “With this settlement we have forced government off its punitive agenda.”

Despite the ratification, the bargaining is far from over. Last week’s agreement is valid just until 2013, with the next round of bargaining set to begin in March, 2013. The BCTF is also suing the province for damages caused by Bill 22, which ordered an end to the teachers’ job action. They are to meet in B.C. Supreme Court this December.

“In a strictly technical sense, I guess they’ve got a deal,” said Ken Thornicroft, labour relations expert at the University of Victoria. “But it sounds to me like all (teachers) have done is preserve the status quo for a year and they’ve decided to take their chances on the new government.”

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

Neighbour details hearing ‘thuds’ the day girls found dead in Oak Bay

Jury at double-murder trial hears from Andrew Berry’s neighbour

‘Goodness prevails’: neighbours reflect following suspicious death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Martin Payne was found dead in his Metchosin home on Friday. Police have confirmed foul play.

Repatriation efforts work to heal and connect through history: Royal BC Museum

Victoria museum’s efforts bolstered by B.C. repatriation grant

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make public transit announcement in Victoria on Thursday

Trudeau is speaking at a campaign countdown event in downtown Victoria

Afternoon crashes tangle Wednesday traffic in Victoria

Victoria Police were kept busy with a pair of rush hour crashes… Continue reading

VIDEO: Sparrows raise their chicks in Cadboro Bay deck planter

Jill Yoneda captured 11 days up close with tiny Junco sparrows

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read