The B.C. government says that a tentative contract agreement has been reached with the provincial teachers’ union.

Education Minister George Abbott released a statement Tuesday night, in which he said that a potential settlement has been agreed upon, which would last until after the next provincial election.

"We are pleased that mediation has resulted in a tentative Memorandum of Settlement between the British Columbia Public School Employers' Association and the British Columbia Teachers' Federation," Abbott said.

"The term of the agreement runs until June 30, 2013, sets out improved language to manage leave provisions and is consistent with government's net zero mandate," he said.

Under the government's net zero mandate, any salary increases would be offset by savings elsewhere within the system.

BCTF 'compelled' to agree

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation also released a statement Tuesday night, in which BCTF president Susan Lambert said that the teachers were able to achieve some modest improvements in the deal the government offered. However, the BCTF is not entirely pleased with the deal and the dispute is far from resolved, she said.

"After a long and difficult round of negotiations, we were compelled into this process under threat of huge fines and further punitive legislation," Lambert said in a written statement.

"We’ve concluded this agreement in order to prevent government from imposing a contract that would further erode teachers’ hard-won rights and do more harm to students’ learning conditions," Lambert said.

Lambert said the agreement leaves important matters unresolved, such as improvements to class size and composition and the wage gap between B.C. teachers’ salaries and those in other regions of the country.

Lambert also noted that no other public sector union has been subject to a similar attack on due process and fair treatment during contract negotiations.

B.C.’s 41,000 teachers have been without a contract for more than one year and have been engaged in an often acrimonious dispute with the government throughout the school year, including a three-day strike.

The strike followed introduction of a bill in the provincial legislature forcing contract mediation on the teachers.

The BCTF said teachers across the province will vote on the agreement between June 27-29, with the results to be announced in the evening of June 29.

 

With files from The Canadian Press