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

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

The West Shore Community Response Network (CRN) is urging awareness around National Fraud Prevention Month, so residents can especially help protect older and vulnerable adults against fraud. (Photo by Joshua Hoehne/Upsplash)
March dialed in as National Fraud Prevention Month

West Shore Community Response Network urges citizens to protect seniors against phone, email scams

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read