Both the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and their employer, B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), are calling the June 15 Labour Relations Board (LRB) ruling a victory this week, for two very different reasons.
The ruling said teachers are allowed to refrain from extra curricular activities, but also said they must take part in work-related duties that take place outside of instructional hours, including school-based team meetings and Ministry of Education initiatives.
BCTF president Susan Lambert released a statement June 15 that said the ruling is a “significant legal victory for teachers because it clarifies the distinction between voluntary and non-voluntary work, and it reaffirms that the countless hours that teachers devote to extra-curricular activities with students truly are voluntary.”
The same day the BCPSEA issued a statement that spoke of their victory.
“We are pleased that the LRB has found in favour of the BCPSEA application and declared that the BCTF engaged in an illegal strike by directing its members to withdraw from those activities that are part of a teacher’s normal work,” the release stated.
The ruling cleared up what teachers must do after school hours while the on-going job action is still in place; however, Minister of Education George Abbott has said the government will not let the action continue much longer.
“Teachers are trying to remain positive and hopeful that a fair negotiated settlement will be achieved at the provincial bargaining table with mediation. However, Minister Abbott has stated/threatened that the government may impose a legislated contract by June 30,” Sunshine Coast Teachers’ Association (SCTA) president Louise Herle said.
“Expectations for next year depend on what happens in the next week at the provincial bargaining table — what actually happens with regard to an imposed contract- and whether or not there is further stripping of our existing collective agreement.”
The BCTF still has an application with the LRB looking to have government appointed mediator Charles Jago removed from his position; however, the BCTF continues to meet with him while the application is being looked at.
“We are at the provincial table this week working with Jago and negotiating a BCPSEA post and fill/teacher employment proposal to introduce ‘suitability’ to replace the ‘teacher seniority, experience and qualifications’ language that is in our contract as well as the proposal to link mandated, rather than self-directed, professional development and mentorship with teacher performance evaluation,” Herle said.
“It is looking increasingly like we are not going to come to an agreement.”