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B.C. teachers reluctantly OK labour deal, say many issues not resolved

Jun 30 2012
B.C. Teachers' Federation president Susan Lambert. 

B.C. Teachers' Federation president Susan Lambert.

Photograph by: Postmedia New , File

B.C. Teachers’ Federation members have voted 75.3 per cent in favour of accepting a tentative agreement with the province, bringing to a close a tumultuous school year that featured the cessation of extracurricular activities and a lack of report cards.

The results were released Friday night after 21,044 teachers cast ballots over three days. The turnout rate was 52 per cent.

BCTF’s executive had reluctantly recommended that teachers vote in favour of the two-year deal, which is retroactive to July 1, 2011, and expires on June 30, 2013.

Union president Susan Lambert said in a statement Friday evening that teachers are generally unhappy, and the deal “does nothing to improve the situation in classrooms for students or teachers.”

The failure to address class size and composition, and teachers’ salaries are major problems, she said.

The executive of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association had recommended that its members vote against the deal.

Association president Tara Ehrcke said she was disappointed at the ratification.

“I don’t think that reflects how Victoria teachers felt and I think there are teachers out there who wanted to send a message to government saying this isn’t good enough,” said Ehrcke.

She said the vote came around quickly and teachers were tired by the long process “and I think when teachers go back in the fall and they see larger class sizes than ever, that they’re going to think this really hasn’t solved things,” Ehrcke said.

Victoria school board chairwoman Peg Orcherton said she was happy and looking forward to relief in the next school year. “Hopefully this will give everyone an opportunity to take a break and a breath and get ready for the next year,” said Orcherton.

She’s hoping both sides will find a strategy to find common ground as they move into the next round of negotiations “and keep the students first and foremost in their minds.”

Orcherton said the past year was “very intense and I do understand teachers’ frustration but things went on too long, I think, and the worry is for the overall effect on public education.”

Michael McEvoy, present of the B.C. School Trustees’ Association, felt relief “because it’s been a very difficult year for everyone — teachers, parents, staff and most importantly, students.

“The thought of going into another school year the way we ended this one was unimaginable.”

The results of the vote were “pretty substantial” in support of ratification but there are clouds on the horizon, he said. “Both parties have left a lot off the table ... so there’s a lot to talk about.

“But it’s a positive step. When you can find some common ground, it will hopefully serve us well as we move into the next round of talks.”

He said the bargaining process helped to build relationships between the parties which will bode well going into the upcoming negotiations.

The two sides reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday following weeks of mediation under Charles Jago.

smcculloch@timescolonist.comB.C. Teachers’ Federation members have voted 75.3 per cent in favour of accepting a tentative agreement with the province, bringing to a close a tumultuous school year that featured the cessation of extracurricular activities and a lack of report cards.

The results were released Friday night after 21,044 teachers cast ballots over three days. The turnout rate was 52 per cent.

BCTF’s executive had reluctantly recommended that teachers vote in favour of the two-year deal, which is retroactive to July 1, 2011, and expires on June 30, 2013.

Union president Susan Lambert said in a statement Friday evening that teachers are generally unhappy, and the deal “does nothing to improve the situation in classrooms for students or teachers.”

The failure to address class size and composition, and teachers’ salaries are major problems, she said.

The executive of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association had recommended that its members vote against the deal.

Association president Tara Ehrcke said she was disappointed at the ratification.

“I don’t think that reflects how Victoria teachers felt and I think there are teachers out there who wanted to send a message to government saying this isn’t good enough,” said Ehrcke.

She said the vote came around quickly and teachers were tired by the long process “and I think when teachers go back in the fall and they see larger class sizes than ever, that they’re going to think this really hasn’t solved things,” Ehrcke said.

Victoria school board chairwoman Peg Orcherton said she was happy and looking forward to relief in the next school year. “Hopefully this will give everyone an opportunity to take a break and a breath and get ready for the next year,” said Orcherton.

She’s hoping both sides will find a strategy to find common ground as they move into the next round of negotiations “and keep the students first and foremost in their minds.”

Orcherton said the past year was “very intense and I do understand teachers’ frustration but things went on too long, I think, and the worry is for the overall effect on public education.”

Michael McEvoy, present of the B.C. School Trustees’ Association, felt relief “because it’s been a very difficult year for everyone — teachers, parents, staff and most importantly, students.

“The thought of going into another school year the way we ended this one was unimaginable.”

The results of the vote were “pretty substantial” in support of ratification but there are clouds on the horizon, he said. “Both parties have left a lot off the table ... so there’s a lot to talk about.

“But it’s a positive step. When you can find some common ground, it will hopefully serve us well as we move into the next round of talks.”

He said the bargaining process helped to build relationships between the parties which will bode well going into the upcoming negotiations.

The two sides reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday following weeks of mediation under Charles Jago.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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