The province and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation are back at the bargaining table, but a local school trustee doubts negotiations will lead to a 10-year deal any time soon.
Trustee Gerald Watson said the province is keen to lock teachers into a 10-year contract as soon as possible.
The teachers’ union wants to wait for a B.C. Supreme Court decision on Bill 22, legislation they say is unconstitutional because it stripped them of their right to bargain for class size, class composition and teacher-student ratios.
Watson said a decision is expected in five to six months. He believes the province will have a tough time negotiating a contract until then.
“I’m not expecting it to unfold quickly. I think there’s little motivation on the union side to negotiate while waiting for the court decision,” he said.
“The province would like (a decision) early in their mandate.”
Watson is on a B.C. School Trustees’ Association executive committee that consults with bargaining. He was a director for the B.C. Public School Employees’ Association, which used to represent the province at the bargaining table.
The province disbanded BCPSEA and appointed a public administrator to bargain on its behalf instead.
Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association president Jason Karpuk said the matter is being dealt with at the provincial level. All local bargaining is resolved for now.
“We’re waiting, just like everybody else, to see what happens at the provincial level,” said Karpuk. “It’ll be interesting to see what the dynamics are at the table.”
Karpuk expects it will be spring before a decision comes down.
Meanwhile, school district support staff return to the bargaining table next week. CUPE Local 3500 president John Hall said both sides hope to reach a collective agreement soon.