Teachers agree to new contract

British Columbia's 40,000 public school teachers voted in favour of a tentative contract Friday night.

British Columbia’s 40,000 public school teachers voted in favour of a tentative contract Friday night, potentially resolving the year-long labour dispute that included a three-day walkout and teachers refusing to over-see extra-curricular activities.

Turnout for the vote was pretty low, with only 52 per cent of teachers voting. Those that did vote, voted 75 per cent in favour of the contract.

“It’s a small step forward,” said Kootenay Columbia Teacher’s Union president Andy Davidoff in an interview with the Castlegar News last week. “They have agreed not to impose a contract – that’s positive.”

The two year contract includes improved benefits and seniority provisions but no wage increases. The contract was negotiated under the provincial government’s strict net zero provision, which means no wage increases for workers.

Davidoff said the deal is basically a roll-over of the 2006-11 agreement. “We then start bargaining again,” he said. “But it avoids the legislated agreement, the harsh fines and further punitive legislation – and that’s important.”

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, which bargains with the BCTF on behalf of the government, will hold a vote for trustees next week on final ratification of the deal.