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Kootenay Lake School Board addresses labour dispute

Editor, The Nelson Daily

Dear Minister Fassbender and Government Bargaining Team:

RE: CURRENT STRIKE/LOCKOUT

We would like to express our extreme disappointment in the current strike/lockout situation in our school district. We believe this is an unacceptable position for our students and our employees and it needs to end immediately. To facilitate this, we request that a mutually agreed upon mediator be appointed as soon as possible.

There are two labour relation foundational statements in which we fully believe:

1. Bargain fairly. This means that as our bargaining agent, we expect respect for the union and going to the table with the true intent to get to a deal.

2. We will not support a legislated deal.

Our Board also believes that BOTH parties should hold these core beliefs. As other Boards have pointed out, the continued media confrontation both from the Government and the BCTF are further eroding the public's belief in, and commitment to, our high quality public education system. Real bargaining takes place behind closed doors and the public exchanges of messages between the bargaining parties have been unacceptable.

Matters relative to the collective agreement should be bargained, and not legislated. Full discussion with all education partners needs to take place so that our students can be protected from the negative impact of disruptive labour strife.

Increased funding for districts and classrooms, in particular, is a priority for our Board.

Funding levels have not been adequate to support the needs of our students. We know that an additional reason for the low morale and frustration of employees at this time is because of their continued struggle in the classroom to provide what our students need.

Our Mission: “We focus on excellence for all learners in a nurturing environment.”

As previous rounds have shown us, we know that a freely negotiated agreement can be achieved if there is a commitment by both parties to bargain fairly. We do expect a negotiated agreement by the end of this year. Our students do not deserve to start their next school year in this environment.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Huscroft
Board Chair
rhuscroft@sd8.bc.ca