Teachers negotiations to end in BC government legislation

Report states wages remain sticking point between teachers' federation and the province.

Education Minister George Abbott

Update – Feb. 23, 11:35 a.m.

Education Minister George Abbott says he will begin the process to bring about an end to year-long teachers contract negotiations.

Abbott announced Thursday morning that he would be directing staff to prepare a bill or bills that would bring about a “resolution” to the collective bargaining dispute between the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) and the province.

“From my perspective, it is unacceptable that this situation continue,” Abbott said in a press conference. “The parties have been at the table now for one year, there have been 78 face-to-face bargaining sessions and the parties remain as far apart today… as they were one year ago, and I am not prepared to see this go on very much longer.”

Abbott expects the bill will be completed next week. He wouldn’t indicate how many years the legislated contract would cover.

The education minister’s announcement followed the release of a report on the status of collective bargaining between the teachers’ federation and the BCPSEA by assistant deputy minister of industrial relations Trevor Hughes. The report concludes that it is unlikely a negotiated agreement could be achieved.

The BCTF will be responding to the report and Abbott’s announcement this afternoon.


Earlier today:

It is unlikely there will be a negotiated agreement between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Public School Employer’s Association.

This is the conclusion of assistant deputy minister of industrial relations Trevor Hughes, in a report delivered this morning to Labour Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

A news release on the report from the Ministry of Labour, Citizen’s Services and Open Government states that a voluntary settlement of the ongoing collective bargaining dispute is unlikely, that “despite more than a year of negotiations and more than 75 face-to-face sessions, the parties have not been able to narrow the outstanding issues.”

The key issue holding the parties apart is wages. The teachers’ federation is pushing for a 15 per cent increase over three years, while the BCPSEA isn’t budging from the province’s “net zero” mandate.

“I also find that the ‘net zero’ mandate and the outstanding ‘split of issues’ between provincial and local bargaining are fundamental obstacles to the parties being able to reach a voluntary agreement,” writes Hughes.

It is now up to Education Minister George Abbott to decide what the next steps will be in the dispute. Abbott will be speaking with the media later this morning.

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