Since the teacher’s job action last year that saw teachers withdraw from voluntary extra curricular activities, tensions between the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the Ministry of Education have continued.
On June 20, the ministry issued a statement indicating they wanted the BCTF and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) to cease negotiations.
“I asked the BCTF and the BCPSEA to conclude negotiations this week and then to work with government and the BC School Trustees’ Association (BCSTA) on a new road map forward that respects the roles of all the stakeholders. We need to keep moving and develop this roadmap before bargaining resumes under a new mandate that is consistent with our election commitment,” said Peter Fassbender, minister of education.
Representatives from the BCTF were unhappy with the ministry’s request. The federation issued a member vote last week to determine if they would accept or reject “government interference” in province-wide bargaining.
For the past month, the BCTF has been urging BCPSEA to remain at the bargaining table, which BCTF President Susan Lambert referred to as a “constructive process.”
“We need to send a strong message to government that teachers will not accept a 10-year scheme to lock in another decade of deteriorating conditions,” wrote Lambert in a letter than went out to 40,000 public school teachers.
“The ballot will read: ‘Do you support our bargaining team and their efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement, and oppose any government interference in the bargaining process? Yes or No’.”
The quiet negotiations began in February, and remained outside of the media spotlight. BCTF president-elect Jim Iker, who will be taking over for outgoing president Lambert, also claimed the talks were going well, calling them “the most constructive talks in years.”
A BCTF spokesman told Black Press that the government request for a “pause” has been withdrawn, and talks continued on June 26 between BCTF and BCPSEA representatives.