Teachers slam bargaining agent

B.C. teachers are criticizing a move made this week by the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association.

B.C. teachers are criticizing a move made this week by the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association.

BCPSEA has made an application for consideration of a decision to dismiss their original request to the Labour Relations Board to impose a 15 per cent fine on the B.C. Teachers’ Association. BCPSEA is seeking application for the BCTF to pay more than $43 million for each month of the job action that began in September.

The Vernon Teachers’ Association believes that this course of action will hinder the already difficult negotiations between BCPSEA and the BCTF.

“The reluctance to accept the LRB’s Nov. 29 ruling indicates a lack of willingness to bargain,” said VTA president Bruce Cummings. “Indeed, it seems that BCPSEA’s main objective is to obstruct, to delay and to deny the obvious: that teachers are engaged in a legitimate job action.”

Cummings said teachers are performing all the essential services determined by the LRB, which rejected BCPSEA’s earlier attempt to overturn their own suggestion that report cards were not an essential service. The Ministry of Education then directed the production of “blank report cards” by administrators.

“What an incredible waste of time, money and effort,” said Cummings, “administrators have much more valuable work to do in the schools than produce pieces of paper that just add to the confusion.

“Parents already know their children’s progress in school because teachers are keeping them informed.”

The provincial government recently walked away from talks with BCTF over class size and composition.

“They made grossly inflated claims about the costs of BCTF proposals,” said Cummings, adding that BCPSEA recently revised their cost estimates of just one BCTF proposal from $49 million to $134,000. “What is needed is for BCPSEA and school districts to bargain in good faith.

“The real impediment to progress is the B.C. government’s refusal to invest in the future of this province. They need to give BCPSEA a realistic mandate.”