Premier offers olive branch to teachers
Premier Christy Clark announced a review of teacher bargaining Wednesday, with a goal of reaching a 10-year agreement that would put an end to decades of battles with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.
Clark and Education Minister Don McRae acknowledged at a Vancouver news conference that changing the culture of confrontation between the B.C. government and teachers won’t be easy, and vowed to put even the most contentious issues on the table for discussion. That includes class size and special needs support, key issues in contract disputes and court actions in recent years.
“Our first goal is long-term labour stability with teachers in British Columbia,” Clark said. “Our second goal is to improve how government interacts and works with the BCTF. These two goals will require compromise on all sides of the table, including ours.”
BCTF president Susan Lambert said she welcomes the review of the bargaining structure, but is skeptical about the latest promise of meaningful consultation.
“It seems to me that talk of a 10-year contract is putting the cart before the horse,” Lambert said. “There seem to be conclusions drawn that would be properly a product of the bargaining table and not a product of a discussion on the bargaining structure.”
The offer comes as the BCTF continued a court challenge to a two-year wage freeze that extends until June.