February 4, 2014
Government appeals teachers’ court victory
At a press conference earlier today, Education Minister Peter Fassbender announced that the provincial government is appealing last week’s BC Supreme Court decision.
While the BCTF knew that government was likely to appeal the decision, BCTF President Jim Iker said: “It’s sad and disappointing, but entirely predictable from a government that cannot be trusted to put education before politics. Despite their frequent claims, government is not serious about providing stability in BC’s public education system.”
Iker emphasized that government’s appeal is not on issues of fact, but of law. Justice Griffin’s decision is based on hard evidence including cabinet documents that government is seeking to keep secret.
“With this appeal, Christy Clark is saying no to smaller classes, no to increased help for students with special needs, and no to extra help for all kids,” Iker said. “Look at the evidence. It speaks for itself. Her government conspired to shut BC schools down. It was outrageous, cynical, and British Columbians should be upset. Christy Clark owes all of us—teachers, students, and parents—an apology.”
Iker notes that the government didn’t want stability in 2012; they wanted to provoke a strike. Now they are trying to hold on to Bill 28, which illegally stripped teachers’ working conditions.
Iker said: “I can tell you, teachers are the ones who want stability. We want to teach in workable classrooms. We want extra help from specialists to ensure all kids get the support they need. We want our students to get more one-on-one time with us. We want teacher-librarians actually working with students in school libraries that are open and properly staffed. We want learning resource and special education teachers helping the growing number of children who have specific learning challenges or special needs. It’s time for this government to end the cuts and give back.” To see Jim Iker’s news conference from today click here.
Restored language: BCTF files two provincial grievances
Justice Griffin’s court decision restored stripped language retroactively. This means that the language is back in collective agreements. Local presidents are currently collecting data comparing current classes with the standards set in the restored language.
The BCTF has also filed two provincial grievances. The first grievance concerns redress for contract violations during the period from the passage of Bill 28 on July 1, 2002 to January 27, 2014. You will see that we are seeking redress for violations of all the restored language.
The second grievance is for current violations beginning from the day of the ruling going forward.
Minister makes misleading statements
During his news conference, Fassbender stated that the government disagreed with Justice Susan Griffin’s ruling. He said: “The judgment centred on the union’s interest, not students’ needs.”
Misleadingly, he said that the Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) had put $210 million into public education and that 500 additional teachers were hired. There is no evidence to back up these claims. In fact, more than 30 fewer teachers are working in BC today than when the LIF came into effect.
Restating the government mantra, Fassbender called, yet again, for a 10-year deal. He also called for true collaboration at the bargaining table.
If you care to listen, here’s an audio file of Fassbender’s statement to reporters in Victoria this morning, as well as the print version.
The government filed its appeal to the BC Court of Appeal today, February 4, 2014, and they must complete all stages of the appeal process within the next 90 days. The BCTF has 30 days to reply, after which the government has seven days to file its reply. Three judges of the BC Court of Appeal will deliver their ruling possibly by late fall 2014.