Teacher negotiations moved forward

Jim Iker, president of the teachers' union, says he is hopeful a deal can be made now that the province has taken the 10-year term off the table.
Image Credit: BCTF LiveStream screenshot

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN — The province announced Thursday it would remove the 10-year term from the table and the teachers’ union president says it’s a relief to finally see it off the table.

“It shows the government is willing to get more serious about it and we are happy about that,” B.C. Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker says. “The term is not the only stumbling block, (there is also concern over) class size, class composition and specialist teachers that work one on one with students.”

Up until now the province has refused to move off the 10-year term. At the beginning of March teachers voted 89 per cent in favour of job action during a strike vote. On April 23 Teachers began stage one of job action, which has seen no administrative work, supervisory roles outside of class time retracted and no routine communication with administration. Students were not to be affected by stage one but some school districts did opt to cancel recess during job action.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender announced Tuesday the province, through the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, would be now offering a six-year term and a time-limited signing bonus.

“A six-year term would be the longest agreement ever reached with the Teachers' Federation in British Columbia, and it will open the door to a 10-year agreement,” Fassbender said. “These are two significant moves aimed at reaching an agreement by the end of the school year."

Iker says he has not yet seen the contract but expects they could be closer to an agreement, at least on the term, after a Friday meeting.

“It’s clear this government is feeling the pressure but we’re not there yet,” Iker says. “We need to get a deal that is fair, respects (teachers’) work and improves conditions for our students. I’m hopeful, I’m optimistic. We want to see an agreement by the end of June.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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