Pay cuts to escalate with teacher strike action

The B.C. government is getting ready to cut teachers' pay by 5%, offers $1,200 signing bonus for deal by end of June

Peter Cameron

The B.C. government is offering teachers a $1,200 signing bonus and reducing its proposed contract length from 10 years to six.

The latest proposal was presented Friday to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation by Peter Cameron, chief negotiator for the province’s 60 school districts. The bonus is contingent on settling the dispute before the end of the school year.

Cameron also informed the union that it will begin cutting teachers’ pay by 5% if teachers continue to refuse to perform some of their duties. That will be imposed “soon” and the union would have to apply to the Labour Relations Board if it wants to contest it, Cameron said.

If the BCTF moves to rotating strikes around the province, the pay cut would increase to 10%.

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association has dropped its plan to start billing the union for the cost of benefits, estimated at $5 million a month, opting for the pay cut in an effort to persuade the union to stop its phase one strike action.

There was no change to BCPSEA’s latest general wage proposal, a 6.5% increase over six years. BCTF president Jim Iker earlier termed that a “lowball offer” that B.C.’s 40,000 teachers would be unlikely to accept.

Cameron said the government’s wage offer is consistent with settlements with other public sector employee groups. He estimates the union’s latest proposal is a 15.9% increase over four years. That is “not in the ballpark” of other public sector union settlements, he said.

The BCTF estimates its wage demand at 13.25% over four years, including cost of living increases.

The new term length is a small modification of the earlier proposal, which was for a 10-year deal with wage negotiations to reopen for the final four years. That proposal would have meant the BCTF couldn’t strike after six years if they didn’t accept the wage extension, because they would still be under contract.

Iker said the 10-year term was never workable, and after 16 months of Premier Christy Clark’s promises, he’s pleased to see it off the table.

Unions representing 47,000 health care workers announced Thursday they are recommending their members accept a five-year settlement that includes a 5.5% wage increase. Workers in hospitals, residential care facilities, emergency health services and supply and logistics will begin voting on the settlement next week.

The BCTF began work-to-rule action in April, refusing supervision outside classrooms and communication with school management. A March strike vote gives the BCTF a mandate to begin rotating strikes at any time.


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