Teachers Remain Committed to Improving Classroom Conditions

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation remains absolutely committed to its objective of improving learning conditions through negotiations.

“Contrary to some headlines today, the BCTF has no intention of backing away from the urgent need to improve classroom conditions and restore services,” said Jinny Sims, Federation president. “I want to reassure parents that we will continue to press for the class sizes, learning resources, and specialist teachers their children need and deserve.”

Sims explained that teachers are pursuing the issue of learning conditions directly with the government rather than at the bargaining table. “That’s because it was government that unilaterally stripped those provisions from our collective agreement, and it was government that said these issues are not allowed to be discussed at the bargaining table,” Sims said.

Yesterday after her meeting with Education Minister Shirley Bond, reporters asked Sims if teachers would agree to a new contract based on a salary increase alone.

“My response was a firm and unequivocal no,” Sims said. “Teachers wouldn’t trade off learning conditions for a salary increase. In fact, in the past we’ve always done just the opposite. We’ve given up salary increases to gain better learning and working conditions for our students and ourselves.”

Sims reiterated that teachers would prefer not to have to take a strike vote. “However, we have been without a contract for 14 months and we feel very strongly that now is the time to seek solutions and resolve these issues,” she said.

Meanwhile, representatives of the BCTF and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association met at the bargaining table today. The employers’ representatives offered nothing new, and stuck to their net-zero mandate. The BCTF representatives informed BCPSEA that they are appealing to government for a venue to resolve the key issues of class size and resources for students. They also asked for additional meetings next week.