The dispute between the Province of B.C. and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is over for the time being and the deal was ratified this past weekend with 75 per cent of teachers voting in favour.
But teachers don’t seem to be happy about the deal. While the BCTF ratified, it also filed a notice of a civil claim with the B.C. Supreme Court regarding Bill 22 (The Education Improvement Act), asserting that the B.C. government violated the teachers’ right to free collective bargaining amongst other things.
According to the BCTF, only 52 per cent of the membership took part in the vote and according to union officials, while there were improved benefits, the issue of class size and composition – a huge point of contention for the teachers – was not addressed.
According to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Education, while there were some discussions related to the manner and consequence of class size and composition, the main focus of bargaining related to class size and composition will begin with the next round of collective bargaining, approximately eight months from now.
A collective bargaining process is about compromise and both sides usually don’t get everything they are respectively seeking but the fact that class size and composition was not addressed is concerning.
After all, aren’t children and students ultimately what education is about?
There have been numerous reports of overcrowded classes in many areas of the province and even though the ministry says the issue will be addressed, another full school year will pass with the issue unresolved.
The deal is set to expire June 30, 2013, with negotiations set to take place in March as mentioned, and hopefully the issue will be dealt with properly.
Otherwise, this whole saga could begin again and the children will be the ones that ultimately suffer.