Teachers shouldn't have their pay deducted, LRB rules on appeal

Jason Hewlett / Kamloops Daily News
December 20, 2011 01:00 AM

The Labour Relations Board has again rejected the province's request to penalize teachers for not doing administrative tasks during their ongoing strike.

But the board suggests the B.C. Teachers Federation and B.C. Public School Employers' Association redefine essential services in an effort to bring the job action to an end, federation president Susan Lambert said Tuesday.

"I don't think that's a very constructive approach," said Lambert. "I'm not sure how that can apply to education."

The province had appealed an earlier ruling that also denied a bid to dock teachers 15 per cent of their pay. Had it been successful, the teachers' union would have paid back tens of millions of dollars.

In a press release from the association, the LRB says the approach the province and teachers have taken is proving ineffective and a new one is needed.

Lambert believes the board would like teachers and the province to explore a tiered definition of essential services. She said this is found in health care, with some tasks deemed more important than others.

She doesn't believe this will work, as all levels of education are equally important.

"There's some people who think that Grade 12 is more important than kindergarten. That's not true," said Lambert.

Trustee Gerald Watson is the Kamloops-Thompson school board's representative for the employers' association. He said the board doesn't believe the status quo will end the strike.

Any discussion on essential services won't happen until the new year as bargaining has broken off until Christmas, he said. The two sides have bargained for months with no resolution.

Lambert said the union is taking a wait-and-see approach.

"We'll have to see how it plays out," she said.

A spokeswoman for the association said BCPSEA is considering its response.

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