Jacqueline Marston

Jacqueline Marston

Zero chance of a negotiated deal, UVic labour expert says

Honking horns and waves of support greeted teachers in Greater Victoria Monday on the first morning of a three-day strike.

Honking horns and waves of support greeted teachers demonstrating outside nearly empty schools in Greater Victoria Monday on the first morning of a three-day strike.

After more than six months of job action, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government remain far apart on reaching a negotiated deal.

On Feb. 27, Education Minister George Abbott tabled legislation to end the job action and impose large fines on any teachers who continue to strike.

On the same day, the Labour Relations Board gave teachers the green light to walk out up to three days this week. As long as MLAs are debating Abbott’s Education Improvement Act inside the legislature, teachers will continue to have the right to strike without fines one day per week beginning March 12.

The BCTF has been asking for a 15 per cent wage increase – a demand that clashed with the government’s “net zero” wage mandate. It’s also the demand that has sparked the most criticism from the public.

“That’s a red herring,” BCTF president Susan Lambert told the News. “That’s what the government would like you to think, but that was our initial bargaining position and we have never been able to address that at all. We will move off of every single objective that we have at the table, but that has to be done at the table.”

Michael Dodd, a teacher at École Campus View elementary and executive member of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, said educators are more focused on the issue of what he calls “horrendous” class size and composition.

“We’ve seen such a deterioration over the last 10 years and that’s what we’re fighting for,” Dodd said, amidst a demonstration at the school on Monday. “We just hope there will be some change at the provincial level.”

The likelihood of seeing change and reaching a deal is virtually non-existent, according to local arbitrator and wage referee Ken Thornicroft.

“I would never say never, but in this case, I’m going to say never,” said Thornicroft, also a professor of labour relations and business law in the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria. “There is no deal to be done here. It’s going to head to a legislated outcome.”

Thornicroft isn’t at all surprised by the BCTF and the province’s inability to reach a negotiated deal, given the last two decades of bargaining history, he said.

The only time the two parties reached a deal was when the government opened the vault in hopes of avoiding any labour disputes during the Olympic Games – an outcome he just doesn’t see happening this time around.

Thornicroft poses a bigger question that reaches beyond the current dispute: why would post-secondary students enter education in such an uncertain labour market?

“There aren’t positions for every education graduate and that’s a problem,” he said. “I would be much more concerned about that than the transient effects of a three-day labour stoppage.”

Meanwhile back inside the 48 schools across the Greater Victoria School District, just 50 students arrived on Monday morning – a number low enough for principals and vice principals to handle.

“Parents were so co-operative,” said Greater Victoria School District superintendent John Gaiptman. “They understood the position we were in.”

In Saanich, some students attended day camps, pulled together on short notice.

Saanich recreation overcame staffing hurdles to provide day camp spaces to 60 students: 20 each at Pearkes, Gordon Head and Commonwealth Place recreation centres. There was a wait list for registration at Gordon Head, but spaces became available. As of Monday some vacancies remained.

“Parents were finding alternatives so they were pulling off of the list,” said Charlene Parker, manager of Gordon Head Recreation Centre. “Most parents seemed to be pretty organized. They’re not in a panic, but they’re making a good use of the time.”

As for the potential of a one-day strike next week – parents will have at least two days notice before another walkout occurs.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

A dogs in parks pilot study unanimously approved by Saanich council will evaluate how park space can best be shared between dog owners and non-owners alike. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Saanich to study park-sharing strategy between those with and without pets

District-wide People, Parks and Dogs study to produce recommendations by fall

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

North Saanich advisor says initiative supports urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

General manager Lindsey Pomper says Sidney’s Star Cinema cannot wait welcome audiences when it reopens June 18, amid an easing of public health measures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain for the first time after months in the darkness

Iconic theatre to reopen at half capacity for Friday night showing

Staff member Lena Laitinen gives the wall at BoulderHouse a workout during a media tour on June 16. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
BoulderHouse raring to rock Langford

Popularity of bouldering continues to climb across Greater Victoria

The Sooke Potholes is a jewel in the community's crown. Transition Sooke hosts a town hall meeting on community growth on June 26. (Courtesy: Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke forum tackles community growth

To Grow or Not to Grow online town hall meeting set for June 26

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read