May 16, 2019 10:23 am

‘Completely untrue’: B.C. teachers’ union president says province seeking contract concessions

WATCH ABOVE: Hard bargaining between teachers and NDP government.

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The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is firing back at the provincial government over its assertion employers aren’t seeking concessions from teachers in contract talks.

The two parties are currently negotiating a new contract, with the teachers current agreement expiring on June 30.

READ MORE: Class size, composition making for ‘rougher than expected’ teachers’ contract negotiations: advocate

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Carole James told Global News that “no one around the table is looking for concessions,” adding that negotiators were looking for “positive change for kids” and teachers.

LISTEN: BCTF president Glen Hansman joins the Lynda Steele Show

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Speaking with CKNW’s The Lynda Steele Show, outgoing BCTF president Glen Hansman called that assertion “completely untrue.”

“Right now at the bargaining table the employers association is bargaining like it’s 2014 and it’s trying to roll back the gains that we got at the court,” said Hansman, referring to the teachers’ landmark Supreme Court of Canada victory that restored class size and composition to their 2002 levels.

READ MORE: BCTF president-elect Teri Mooring to focus on wage increases, recruitment amid contract negotiations

“What the employer has tabled are class size numbers that would be a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ in the entire province and they would be worse than what currently exists in Vancouver, Surrey,” Hansman added.

He said the effect of that approach would be the loss of teaching positions as many districts saw new, larger class sizes.

Hansman said the NDP government is currently using the language of “flexibility,” which he argued hearkens back to the way the former B.C. Liberal government talked about education.

“So why the NDP government would allow the employers association to table proposals that will mess around with those things and class composition and ratios for our specialist teachers counsellors and teacher librarians and resource teachers is beyond me,” he said.

READ MORE: New B.C. doctors contract could shape teacher negotiations

Hansman said teachers are also concerned the employer is proposing to eliminate the different specialist teacher ratios for special-needs kids that exist in various different districts, in place of a “pot of money” approach that wouldn’t guarantee specific numbers.

So is a strike in the near future?

“There’s lots of time to sort this out,” Hansman said.

“We want stability and to get a deal as much as anyone.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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