VICTORIA – Government introduced Bill 22 on February 28, the Education Improvement Act, that suspends the teachers’ strike action and sets a “cooling off” period, appoints a mediator to facilitate bargaining, and implements a new $165-million Learning Improvement Fund and other enhancements to K-12 education.
Bill 22 imposes a cooling off period and suspends the teachers’ union strike action while calling on the assistance of a mediator. The legislation does not impose a new contract. Rather, it extends the previous collective agreement to cover the mediation period, with the goal of reaching a negotiated agreement by the beginning of summer. If there is no agreement, then the mediator will issue a report by June 30, 2012 with non-binding recommendations.
The mediator will work to balance the interests of employers and employees and their mandate includes the ability to help find agreement on manner and consequences of class organization and the local-provincial split of bargaining issues. Their mandate also requires that any proposed solutions must not result in net new costs for school districts.
The Education Improvement Act also includes several initiatives that will benefit teachers, including the Learning Improvement Fund to help teachers meet complex needs in their classrooms and the restoration of class size and related matters to the scope of collective bargaining. The legislation streamlines and sets the stage for more effective consultations between teachers and administrators on class organization matters and mandates additional compensation for teachers where class size exceeds 30 students. Collectively, the improvements serve as the government’s response to last year’s B.C. Supreme Court decision on Bills 27 and 28.
Minister of Education George Abbott –
“We’re putting more money into the classroom, we’re improving supports for students and teachers, we’re providing additional teacher compensation where class size exceeds the student limit, and we’re restoring the opportunity to bargain class size and related matters. Taken together, these are significant gains that recognize the important role and contribution of teachers.”
Counterpoint accessible here