VINTA President Update

Hi Folks,

Okay, I am now officially depressed – well perhaps not depressed as much as PO’ed.

I was going to attempt to ignore Peter Fassbender’s e-mail to teachers.  It was a desperate move in a failing strategy.

He single-handedly was able to re-write Mark Twain’s expression; “there are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics “.  It now reads; There are four kinds of lies; “lies, damned lies, statistics and Peter Fassbender’s e-mail to teachers”.

I was going to try and ignore it, but apparently I was not all that successful with that.

Much to the Minister’s chagrin the court record does show the fiberals were attempting to provoke a strike.  Justice Griffin based her decision on this.

And, in fact, most of the Collective Agreement language stripped from our contracts in 2002 was freely negotiated between our School Board and Vancouver Island North teachers between 1989 and 1994.  Many of us were on strike for 6 weeks to support those negotiations.  i.e. no  legislation.  The language Fassbender refers to was negotiated between government and the BCTF.  And, we did pay for it.  In exchange for the primary class size language and non-enrolling ratios we took  ‘0-0 and 2’ for salary.  We paid for that class size language by forgoing wage increases.   School Boards at the time refused to ratify the agreement so government passed it as legislation.  It was subsequently agreed, between BCTF and BCPSEA, to write the agreement into Collective Agreements.

Fassbender’s comments about simply re-doing legislation are simply not true!

But, oddly enough, even this is not what has caused the onset of great annoyance.

A brief recap: the government was found to have violated teachers’ charter rights – twice.  The government was found to have bargained in bad faith and attempted a strategy to intentionally provoke a teachers’ strike.  For this they were fined $2 million. 

And then, there is the government response to all of the above at the bargaining table.  It can be found at:

It is the February 13th Report from the table.  Technically, matters at the bargaining table are only to be communicated to members through secure means.  Suffice is to say, the government’s response at the table is as if the court ruling never existed.

Much of what will happen at the bargaining table will depend on what happens in the next few weeks.  

The government has appealed the court ruling to the BC Court of Appeal.  Possibly, the most important aspect of the appeal is their attempt to have the ‘stay of proceedings’ continued until the Court of Appeal hears the appeal.   If this happens, the court decision is not in effect.  No action on Justice Griffin’s ruling will happen until after the appeal is heard – and that could take a while.

However, if the’ stay of proceedings’ is not continued then all language is restored retroactively and we proceed from there. 

We should know the decision with the ‘stay of proceedings’ in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned.


P.S.  Happy Valentine’s Day

This a statement just released by BCTF President Jim Iker.

 February 14, 2014

BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker, also the Federation’s lead negotiator, is at the bargaining table today working hard to secure a negotiated settlement that delivers a fair deal for teachers and better support for students.

On the government’s notice to stay the recent BC Supreme Court Ruling, Jim Iker issued the following statement:

 Statement from BCTF President Jim Iker

“Three times now the BC government has lost in BC Supreme Court regarding the stripped language. Their actions against teachers and BC’s education system have twice been ruled unconstitutional. The Court found that they put their own political agenda ahead of fair negotiations and tried to provoke a full-scale strike to manipulate public opinion.

By trying to prevent teachers from gaining back their illegally stripped working conditions, the government is blocking much-needed improvements to our education system.

Some of the provisions this government is trying to keep out of BC schools include:

  • Class-size limits of 24 for technology and industrial education classes where students are working with heavy machinery. Since 2002, more and more technology education teachers have become concerned about overcrowded and unsafe conditions in their workshops.
  • Specialist teacher staffing levels, like one learning assistance teacher per 504 students and one teacher counsellor per 693 students. Because these ratios were eliminated in 2002, BC has lost 1,400 specialists, including 700 special education teachers. That means all students are getting less one-on-one time.
  • A class-size limit of 20 for Kindergarten to ensure our youngest learners get the most one-on-one time possible.

The BC government is also appealing the BC Supreme Court ruling that would allow the BCTF to share our closing argument  with our members which includes evidence of government conduct that was before the Court. Given the Premier and Minister of Education’s willingness to deny the facts as laid out in Justice Griffin’s ruling, we believe releasing all of the information to our members is more important now than ever.”