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NDTA president says government 'not bargaining in good faith' as BC Teacher's strike heads into summer

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
July 9th, 2014

In the movie Network, Howard Beale (actor Peter Finch) delivered the “We’re Mad as Hell” speech from the Union Broadcasting System Building protesting poor ratings on the news show.

Now picture more than 40,000 teachers doing the same “We’re Mad as Hell” speech protesting the poor treatment by the Liberal government in their efforts to bargain a new collective agreement.

The summer has arrived, and following more than a month of job action by the BC Teachers’ Federation, there is still no agreement in the long-standing labour dispute.

“NDTA (Nelson and District Teachers Association) members feel angry over the government’s not bargaining in good faith,” NDTA president Paul Boscariol told The Nelson Daily.

“The BCTF has revised their proposals several times, yet there have not been any formal proposals presented from the government.”

“How is bargaining supposed to proceed under those conditions?” Boscariol adds.

No new talks are planned between the BCTF and B.C. Public School Employer’s Association (BCPSEA), the bargaining arm for the provincial government.

Wages continue to be a sticking point in bargaining, despite BCTF president Jim Iker saying the two sides are just one percentage apart.

The BCPSEA counters Iker’s calculations saying when adding wages, benefits and a proposed $5000 signing bonus, wage demands are twice the average public sector contract.

There is also the issue of class size and composition that continues to hamper any agreement — a stumbling block Boscariol says is very near and dear to teachers.

“First and foremost, it makes sense at an educational level,” Boscariol explains.

“There are numerous studies that show student results and learning are better in a smaller class.”

“Included in the overall lower number of students there are also fewer students identified as needing additional help such as modifying or adapting curriculum or having a behavior plan in place,” Boscariol adds.

“The identified students with IEP (Individual Education Plans) have seen their extra help eroded over the past 12 years.”

Boscariol said that there are also the two recent Supreme Court rulings that claimed the government was wrong for tearing out class size and composition from the collective agreement.

The lack of progress in bargaining has prompted the chair of the Vancouver School Board to use binding arbitration to resolve the strike that looks to continue to the start of the new school term in September.

This coming after two mediators — Vince Ready and B.C. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher — decided to turned down the job.

“The concern is growing that talks have stalled,” Vancouver Board Chair Patti Bacchus told CBC News.

“We have heard no news and it doesn’t sound like there are really any signs of progress.”

Boscariol said at this time the NDTA is not picketing any of the schools or maintenance facilities in the Kootenay Lake School District, meaning Distance Education School of the Kootenays (DESK) is up and running during the summer.

This decision has allowed the NDTA union brothers and sisters in CUPE 748 the opportunity to work during the summer.

However, Boscariol wouldn’t confirm picketing is over for the entire summer holiday.

“Picketing has concluded for summer but picketing could resume at any given time and location during the summer,” he said.

“This will depend on what is happening with bargaining and from decisions made by our local executive.”

Categories: Education

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