Will Teachers Get Their Bonus?
The teachers have eight days left to get the signing bonus doled out to the rest of the public service employees in BC.
It looking increasingly likely that isn’t going to happen.
Teachers and their employers, the BC Public School Employers Association, have never reached a negotiated settlement and there is nothing to indicate that this year’s talks are going to end any differently.
That’s right. They have never reached a settlement. The terms of their contracts have always been imposed by the Provincial Government.
Can you imagine a situation in your workplace where you and your boss are so far apart on deciding your salary that an outside body needs to come in and tell you what you are going to make – not just once but each and every year?
Right now the teachers are asking for 19% over three years, down slightly from their opening position of 24%. Yes, that is as rich as it sounds, especially compared to other public sector settlements this spring.
The employers are offering 10% over four years. If they can come to agreement by the end of the month, teachers also get the extra $3000 and change signing bonus.
You can see from the numbers that these two groups aren’t even in the same building, much less at the same table.
And, worst of all, we are exactly where we were nine months ago when the Provincial Government ordered the teachers back to work.
The hope was that through the fall, winter and spring the Province, employers and teachers would be able to get together and hammer out a new model of cooperation.
To some extent, it has worked. Class sizes, the stated reason for last fall’s job action, haven’t been an issue for the teachers this time around.
Of course, the BCTF has a responsibility to its members to push for the best settlement that it can get. In the same fashion, the employers have the responsibility to sign a contract that is financially sustainable for the long term – and not just buy peace for a couple of years.
The challenge – to find common ground.
Teachers argue that they are underpaid compared to other jurisdictions. That may very well be true.
But if that were a reason to strike, British Columbia’s 79 MLAs should have taken job action years ago. BC MLAs make less than their counterparts in five jurisdictions, include Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. I don’t see anyone crying for them.
Both sides need to figure this out, within the framework of the other negotiated public sector settlements. The teachers decided to become part of the public sector union structure and that means falling in line with other public sector workers. It’s only fair.
Otherwise there will be a further erosion of support for teachers, a great and honourable profession providing amazing work to our most important citizens – the future.
(As Seen Today in 24 Hours)