President, Golden Teachers’ Association
On September 6, teachers in Golden joined their colleagues across British Columbia in job action to increase pressure on the provincial employer to negotiate a fair collective agreement. Teachers, members of the BC Teachers’ Federation, will not be performing administrative tasks such as filling out forms, collecting data, meeting with principals or other administrators, supervising on playgrounds, or writing report cards.
“Teachers’ attention will be totally focused on the students in their classrooms, and not on the many bureaucratic and administrative tasks that take away from the joy of teaching and learning,” said Susan Lambert, president of the BCTF, adding that teachers will be in close communication with parents if the need arises.
Bob Wilson, President of the Golden Teachers’ Association, explained, “At the provincial bargaining table, the employer is not only sticking to the government’s ‘net zero’ mandate in terms of funding any new agreement, but also is demanding massive concessions in terms of our teaching conditions. This is not acceptable.”
During this round of bargaining, teachers are proposing teaching conditions that support student learning, fair and reasonable salary and benefits, and a return to processes that allow locally-elected boards of education to bargain issues of local concern with local teachers.
In terms of local bargaining, Wilson added, “Provincial bargaining of local issues doesn’t work. For example, we have hiring language that we haven’t been able to touch in 17 years. Getting and keeping a job in Golden is different than it is in Vancouver or Haida Gwaii. We need to be able to discuss those items locally with the people elected to represent the public in local matters.”
Lambert called on Education Minister George Abbott and Premier Christy Clark to send their negotiators back to the bargaining table with a new mandate to achieve a negotiated settlement that will meet the needs of students and teachers alike.
A total of 90 percent of teachers voted yes for initiating job action in a province-wide strike vote conducted in June. In all, 28,128 teachers cast their ballots, of whom 25,282 voted yes. About 70 percent of teachers in schools and teachers teaching on call participated.