Teachers ratify agreement, end strike
For the first time since the middle of June, East Kootenay school children will be stepping into classrooms for a day of school Monday, Sept. 22.
Members of the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) voted to ratify the agreement-in-committee yesterday reached on Tuesday, September 16, with the government’s bargaining agent, the BC Public School Employers’ Association.
In a province-wide vote conducted on September 18, a total of 31,741 teachers cast ballots and 27,275 voted yes, 86%.
“We all know this deal isn’t perfect, but it provides some gains for teachers, protects our Charter Rights, and increases support for students,” said BCTF President Jim Iker.
“This was a very tough round of negotiations and a difficult time for many of us on strike, but we successfully pushed back against concession demands and we have emerged as a stronger and more engaged union. Through the hard work of our teachers, British Columbians now fully understand the real issues facing our public education system.”
In announcing the vote results, Iker thanked teachers for their resilience and commitment.
“B.C. teachers, you have inspired me day in and day out for the last 18 months,” said Iker. “Your strength on the picket lines and passion for your profession helped us make gains this week that were not possible at any point over the last three months. Thank you for standing strong and doing what you believe is right.
“Next week, teachers will be back in classrooms and we will be working to ensure the new gains in this agreement begin to flow as soon as possible. That means more classroom and specialist teachers in schools to help students, our teachers teaching on call getting fair pay for a day’s work, and a salary boost for all members.”
Iker concluded by once again thanking the thousands of parents, students, concerned citizens, and other union members who supported teachers through the negotiations and job action.
B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender stated in an email, “On behalf of government, I want to thank and congratulate B.C. teachers for voting in favour of the agreement reached earlier this week between the BCTF and BCPSEA bargaining teams. We have one of the best public education systems in the world, and that’s in large part because we have such great teachers. We can now focus on the path forward.”