Category Archives: job action

A few recent articles on labour dispute

To say a dysfunctional relationship between two parents doesn’t affect the children would be an outrageous lie. The relationship between the BCTF and the province is very much the same and the effects are mostly felt by the students.

Like all school kids and their parents, the school support workers are innocent victims of the strike/lockout.

It’s another reason for the government to order a cooling-off period. Let’s get through the rest of the school year with no further disruptions, and then the BCTF and government should be forced to bargain in the summer with the help of a mediator.

Graduation and exams for British Columbia’s half-a-million public school students are in jeopardy as the teachers’ union threatens to launch a full-blown strike.

The BC Teachers’ Federation is asking the province’s more than 40,000 teachers to vote on escalating job action next Monday and Tuesday, with the potential for a full strike starting as early as June 16.

…All of which leaves intact the government’s strategy for dealing with the dispute, which would appear to rest on six considerations.

The first is that the teachers pay an economic price for any strike action, hence the 10-per-cent wage penalty.

The second is to avoid outright cancellation of graduation, exams, marking and report cards.

The third is to avoid, if at all possible, having to call back the legislature and impose yet another contract on teachers before the end of the school year.

The fourth is to leave the 12-year battle over Liberal-induced contract-stripping to the courts, where the latest iteration of the case is to be heard before the B.C. Court of Appeal this fall.

The fifth is not to be drawn into pointless talk about fixing a supposedly “broken” bargaining system. The current system has produced multiple settlements with other public-sector unions, including numerous agreements with school support workers represented by locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Plus, as master mediator Vince Ready said when he was asked to make recommendations on the bargaining system during an earlier showdown between government and teachers: “Unless both sides are committed to collective bargaining, the process will be fruitless no matter what system is adopted or legislated.”

The sixth fundamental for the Liberals is that the settlement with teachers not break the pattern of other settlements in the public sector, thereby risking a round of “me too” demands from other unions.

The latter is of particular concern because the nurses union has yet to settle in the current round. In one key respect, nurses have more bargaining leverage than teachers, there being a significant shortage of nurses and none of teachers, excepting some specialized categories like maths and sciences.

I’ve argued that the Liberals could and should offer a catch-up increase to teachers, recognizing that they are coming off two years of zeros while other public sector workers are coming off two years of increases in the 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent range.

But all signs suggest the Liberals are more likely to offer greater financial resources to address public concerns about class size and composition. Since the resources would go into the classroom rather than into higher wages and benefits, the government could go that route without having to match the increases dollar-for-dollar in other public sector talks.

As in the past, the government could bolster funding for the K-12 system by diverting the savings from the strike. Thus if teachers vote next week to step up their job action, they would also be contributing to the pool of money available to fund an eventual settlement of the dispute.

Details of BCTF and BCPSEA proposals

The collective bargaining proposals can be found here:

For example, the June 3rd class size proposal from the BCTF is here:

In 2014 the class size maximums would be 20 for Kindergarten, 22 for grades 1-3, and 28 for grades 4-12. By 2016, the maximum for kindergarten would be 18, 20 for grades 1-3, 26 for grades 4-7, and 27 for grades 8-12. For split classes, the class size maximum would two less than the maximum for the lowest grade.

For reference, the current class size maximums for kindergarten are 22 students, for grades 1 to 3 it is 24 students, and for grades 4 to 12 it is 30 students.

In 2002, kindergarten class sizes were capped at 20 students, while Grades 1 to 3 were capped at 22. In 2002, class sizes for Grades 4 to 12 were negotiated by each school district, so there was no consistency across the province. The 2002 class size limits were restored by the BC Supreme Court in January, but that decision is currently being appealed.

The BCPSEA has a document from March, giving details as to their differences with class size and composition proposals:

Teachers to vote on full-scale strike, rotating strikes again next week

“BCTF President Jim Iker is threatening a full-scale teachers’ strike within the next two weeks if the government doesn’t put more money on the table.

Iker says teachers will take a strike vote on Monday, June 9 and Tuesday, June 10 to get a mandate for escalated job action.

Rotating strikes will also continue next week, and the schedule will be released tomorrow.”


Without more government money on the table, Iker said, field trips will be cancelled and report cards will not be issued because of increasing job action on the part of the province’s 41,000 teachers.

Iker said the decision to go to a vote on a full strike was made Tuesday, even before the Labour Relations Board ruled against the union.

LRB Decision – Lockout Legal$2014.pdf

The “Labour Relations Board sided with the province in its bid to dock teachers 10 per cent of their pay during the rotating strikes.

The union went to the board over the government’s decision to dock teachers’ wages in reaction to their job action.

Teachers argued the government’s move to reduce their wages needed prior approval from the Labour Relations Board.

But the board ruled Wednesday afternoon that it was siding the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, the bargaining arm for the government.”

BCCPAC Calls for End to Strike and Lockout

Parent organization seeks immediate end to teacher strike and lockout

The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) is calling for an immediate end to the rotating strike and lockout action that is disrupting schools and hurting students.

The appeal follows a BCCPAC meeting over the weekend that brought parents from around the province together to discuss issues affecting K-12 education. Their foremost concern was the protracted labour dispute between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the provincial government.

This feud is having a detrimental effect on the most vulnerable students by denying them the help they need from teachers at this critical time of year, said BCCPAC president Terry Berting.  It’s also causing financial hardship for struggling families.

“Successful outcomes for all students – not just those graduating from Grade 12 – are being affected by this labour dispute,” he said. “This has got to stop.”

A second round of rotating strikes, now underway, means every school will be behind picket lines for one day this week. In addition, some schools have been cancelling extra-curricular activities, end-of-year celebrations and sporting events as a result of feud, but this is uneven.

BCCPAC wants government and the union to stop using pressure tactics that affect students and concentrate their energy on achieving a new collective agreement. It is time for both sides to take risks and negotiate in the true spirit of give and take.

“We’re encouraging parents to write to Education Minister Peter Fassbender and BCTF president Jim Iker, explaining how the rotating strikes and lockout are hurting families,” added Nicole Makohoniuk, who was elected as the new BCCPAC president during the weekend meeting and will begin her two-year term July 1.

Media Contact:


Visit BCCPAC online at

Updates from BCCPAC Conference and AGM

Parents may have different views about the labour feud that’s hurting B.C. public schools, but those attending the BCCPAC conference appeared united Friday in their anger and frustration.

They’re fed up, BCCPAC president Terry Berting told the media, adding that his group is considering what action it might take to pressure the parties to reach a negotiated settlement.

Parents want to take the high road but they’re troubled by the ongoing bitterness between government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), The Canadian Press quoted him as saying.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender spoke to conference delegates Friday morning and was later peppered with questions, starting with this one: “How does class size not matter?”

Parents also wanted to know what his government is doing to help with complex classes, how it will protect schools threatened with permanent closure, whether the labour dispute will upset graduation activities and final exams and whether negotiations will continue throughout the summer.

There were no surprises in his answers: Class size is important up to a point, but not as important as class composition and teacher quality, given limited tax dollars, he said. Government has provided additional dollars to help with class composition challenges but it’s an issue that needs more attention, after a contract is signed, he added.

Prince George District Struck Again on Tuesday, June 3rd

The BC Teacher’s Federation has announced rotating strikes will continue next week.

They will be held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, throughout the province. In SD57, Prince George, the strike will take place Tuesday, June 3rd.

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More updates on job action / strike / lockout

Prince George Teacher Rally, Thursday May 29 at 4PM : FAIR DEAL RALLY May 2014 2

It has been said that the first casualty of war is truth, but in the playground spat between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Liberal government, the first casualties seem to be the common sense, dignity and decorum of public education.

Letter from Ministry of Education, sent to school districts to distribute to parents:

The employers’ association and the union are scheduled to argue the legality of the lockout before the Labour Relations Board on Thursday.

Interesting blog post from a MLA:

BCTF Cheat Sheet:

Editorial from Times Colonist – Find better way to negotiate

“If the government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation are putting the welfare of students first, we don’t see the evidence. Despite all the rhetoric about finding a new approach, bargaining has degenerated into the familiar tooth-and-nail nastiness that has characterized contract talks for most of the past 30 years.

It’s tiresome. It’s not good for education. It needs to change.

“Schools are not factories,” former deputy education minister Don Wright wrote in 2003 after being called back into service to examine teacher bargaining. “There are all kinds of intangible factors that make for a successful school. This is all put at risk when labour conflict is brought into the school.”

Wright, a Harvard PhD and an expert highly regarded by educators for his common sense, said what everybody knew: The teacher bargaining model simply did not work, never had and was serving nobody well.


Which brings us to the shameful situation where the victims of all the game-playing and charades are children and their parents, not a company’s bottom line.

Shameful, because the number of families headed by single parents or where both parents work has increased significantly. If teachers strike, parents will have to stay home and lose income, or live with the anxiety that their children might not be adequately looked after.”



© Copyright Times Colonist

Read entire editorial here:

More clarification about what Lockout actually means

1. Does the current BCPSEA partial lockout prevent teachers from continuing their involvement with student extracurricular programs or other volunteer activities?

NO. Teachers are welcome to continue their involvement with any extracurricular or volunteer activities of their choice. Nothing in the lockout order prevents any continued or new involvement with such activities.

2. Does it matter whether or not the extracurricular activities take place during the school day (e.g., at lunch), within 45 minutes of the start or end of the school day, or later in the day (e.g., in the late afternoon or evening)?
NO. Teachers are welcome to continue their involvement with all extracurricular and other
volunteer activities regardless of the time of the day.

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