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B.C. teachers vote 86 per cent in favour of deal; students back in school Monday

WATCH: BCTF President Jim Iker announces ratification of labour deal.

VANCOUVER – B.C. teachers have voted 86 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement.

27,275 “yes” votes were cast, out of 31,741 votes. There are about 41,000 teachers in B.C.

Most students will be able to return to class Monday, says BCTF President Jim Iker, although he says parents should check with their school districts to confirm. School boards still must ratify the vote.

“This was a very tough round of negotiations, and a difficult time for many of us on strike, but together, we successfully pushed back against concessions,” says Iker. “We have emerged as a stronger and more engaged union.”

He says British Columbians now have a better understanding of public education.

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“British Columbians fully understand the issues facing our public education system, and British Columbians are not OK with the status quo.” says Iker. “We all know this deal isn’t perfect, but it provides gains for teachers, protects our charter rights and increases supports for our students.”

Iker says no time will be made up for missed classes due to the labour disruption.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender congratulated teachers for voting to approve the deal.

“On behalf of government, I want to thank and congratulate B.C. teachers for voting in favour of the agreement reached earlier this week between the BCTF and BCPSEA bargaining teams,” says Fassbender.

“We can now focus on the path forward. This long-term agreement is an historic opportunity to work together for students – to enhance their education experience and to support their achievements.”

The six year deal includes a 7.25 per cent salary increase, improvements in extended health benefits and the teaching-on-call rate, an education fund to address class size and composition issues, and money to address retroactive grievances.

Read the full tentative agreement here:

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Before the vote Thursday, Victoria teacher Tara Ehrcke said she’s very disappointed in the proposal, and that if contract was ratified, teachers would be saying “Yes” to conditions “that aren’t good enough.”

Labour lawyer Ritu Mahil said that if the union’s leaders think it’s a good deal, then members should take that recommendation seriously, and the deal was probably the best they could get at the time.

— with files from Canadian Press

WATCH: BC teachers vote today on the proposed contract and a return to the classroom. Keith Baldrey reports. (News Hour, Thursday)

PHOTO GALLERY: Teachers vote

Grace Ke, Global News
Grace Ke, Global News
Grace Ke, Global News
Grace Ke, Global News