B.C. government moves to repair teacher bargaining process
The B.C. government is moving to fix its dysfunctional bargaining relationship with the province's 41,000 public school teachers.
Premier Christy Clark announced on Wednesday a review of the process with the goal of making legislative changes next spring, when the teachers' contract expires.
Clark has appointed Education Minister Don McRae to conduct consultations and review reports with the goal of long-term labour stability and improving the relationship between the union and government.
The premier says she believes changes can be made to make the system better if everyone is willing to co-operate and keep an open mind.
"When we are constantly in this cycle of negotiations, negotiations breaking down, job action and settlement and back to negotiations again it dosen't form the basis of a functional relationship," Clark said.
The B.C. Teachers' Federation has had a fractious relationship with government for decades and spent most of the last school year in job action before reluctantly agreeing to a new one-year contract.
The BCTF said the union was not asked to participate in Wednesday’s announcement, but said president Susan Lambert did receive a personal "heads up" late Wednesday morning.
"We welcome this legislation but we're wary, we've been promised consultation before and it's ended up in punitive legislation," Lambert said.
Clark says she believes the review might result in long-term labour peace that could include contracts that last up to 10 years.
With files from the CBC's Stephen Smart