Nearly one year and some 75 bargaining sessions later, Victoria and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation are not even remotely close to settling a new collective agreement.
The provincial government is now poised to legislate a settlement.
It was a predictable outcome, considering the teachers’ union was demanding a 15 per cent wage increase over three years, as well as other stratospheric benefits, such as 10 weeks bereavement leave for the death of a friend, and 26 weeks of paid leave to care for a sick person – family, friend or otherwise.
In the present challenging economic climate, and given the fact that other public sector unions have accepted zero per cent contracts, the BCTF is clearly in fantasy land.
Now the sabre-rattling has begun, with the union talking about the possibility of a full strike.
That should settle any doubt in the public’s mind as to the intent of a serious escalation in job action, which up to now has seen teachers declining to do certain administrative tasks, such as filling out report cards.
This is not “about the children,” as the BCTF keeps insisting.
This is another political fight between the provincial government and the teachers’ union – another dreary chapter of dysfunctional contract negotiation in which the Liberals and the NDP before them legislate settlements in all but one occasion since 1996.
Further job action now, especially a strike, would not be in the best of interest of the kids.