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Contract breakthrough for B.C. teachers as union announces tentative deal

Former British Columbia Teacher Federation (BCTF) President Jim Iker is seen outside the Britannia Secondary and Elementary Schools in Vancouver, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, during the last BCTF strike.
Former British Columbia Teacher Federation (BCTF) President Jim Iker is seen outside the Britannia Secondary and Elementary Schools in Vancouver, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, during the last BCTF strike. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

After nearly a year of gruelling negotiations, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) says it has reached a tentative agreement with the province.

The BCTF says it is recommending the deal, which was cut over “several days of marathon negotiations,” to its 45,000 members.

READ MORE: B.C. education minister optimistic 2020 a ‘breakthrough year’ for teacher contract talks

None of the details have been publicly released.

The union has been bargaining with the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association since April 2019 and has been without a contract since the end of June last year.

Global News obtains memo detailing potential BCTF job action
Global News obtains memo detailing potential BCTF job action

“The tentative agreement will be voted on by the entire membership for ratification. Given the current circumstances with COVID-19, our ratification vote will be different this time around, and we are already working on what that will look like,” said the union.

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“We will give updates as we have them.”

The province confirmed it had reached an agreement and said more details would be made available after it had been ratified by the teachers’ union and the employer.

Earlier this year, teachers had suggested they were prepared to strike as mediated talks dragged on.

READ MORE: B.C. teachers reject mediator’s recommendations for contract settlement with employer

Negotiations between the employer and the union had been hampered, in part, by the province’s Sustainable Services Negotiating Mandate, which capped possible salary increases at two per cent per year.

The union was looking for salary increases to bring B.C. wages closer in line with other provinces. The BCTF argued that B.C. has the second-lowest starting salary for teachers in Canada.

Teachers also accused the province of seeking concessions on class size and composition language in their contract.

Class size and composition were returned to 2002 levels after the teachers won a key ruling at the Supreme Court of Canada against the former B.C. Liberal government in 2016.