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Update: BC teachers accept deal with the province

This is a follow up to my Friday blog post about the longest province-wide strike in the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation’s history. Well it seems there will not be any need for back-to-work legislation.

The majority of members of the BC teachers’ union accepted the six-year deal with the government. This means that the long and bitter strike between teachers and the government has ended and students will resume their education as early as Monday September 22.

It was reported that out of the 31,741 who cast ballots, 27,275 members (86 percent) voted in favour of the agreement. According to experts in industrial relations, the number of ballots cast in favour of the agreement was the most of any ratification votes held by the union over the past decade.

However, for some, the vote was bittersweet, given that the deal was definitely not perfect; it did not do enough to compensate for the losses from job action or improve classroom conditions for children.

What was in the deal?

The deal includes a 7.25 percent salary increase, a $400-million fund to hire more specialized teachers, improvements in extended health benefits, and better pay for teachers who are on call. It also provides an additional $105 million for dispatching of retroactive grievances. The settlement is the lengthiest ever reached, expiring on June 20, 2019.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said to the media that he hopes the relationship between teachers and the province can be healed over the next five years of labour peace under the new contract. He added, an ongoing court case between the province and the union over class size and composition will still have to play out. The provincial government has lost two B.C. Supreme Court cases over its 2002 decision to unilaterally remove class size and composition from the collective agreement. The government is appealing and a hearing is scheduled next month.

The education minister stated that provincial exams may have to be rescheduled but classes will not be extended to make up for the three weeks of the new school year that teachers were on strike.

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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