BCTF – insulted by employers’ offer, recommends strike vote to members

Global TV 6:00 Newscast, May 19, 2006, 6:00 pm Transcript

Tony Parsons: Yet another sign tonight that the last major public sector contract with the BC Teachers’ Federation will be the most difficult to settle. Calling the employers’ last offer an insult, the BCTF says it is going ahead with a strike vote next month. It all raises a frustratingly familiar scenario for parents: the disruption of classes in September.

Reporter: On the BC Teachers’ Federation’s website today, a strongly worded message to members appeared.

Jinny Sims [website recording]: We are forced to recommend to our members that we have a strike vote on the seventh and eighth of June.

Reporter: The employers dismissed the message as a negotiating ploy after it rejected the BCTF’s salary and benefit demands. The teachers are asking for a 24% pay increase over three years. They’re also asking for 100% of all benefit premiums paid by the employer, as well as 100% coverage of all prescription drugs and unlimited dental coverage, including orthodontics.

Streeter: I definitely think teachers are worth it. Yeah, I think they should be paid great money and great benefits.

Streeter: I don't agree with it. And nobody I know who has children (I have two) agree with it. I have heard their average wage is, like, $318, $320 a day.

Streeter: They’ve got a hard job. So I think they deserve 24%.

Reporter: The BCTF says it is a matter of supply and demand, and they’re saying there's a shortage of substitute teachers.

Irene Lanzinger: The government is claiming there's no teacher shortage and districts are telling us every day they're running out of teachers on call – everywhere in the province.

Ron Christensen: Right now there's a TOC [?] shortage. It is a blip. What happened is last January under the Ready process there was $20 million given to the sector to hire more teachers. They hired 1,200 teachers, mostly off their TOC list.

Reporter: The teachers went on strike last fall in an effort to secure a new contract and they’re threatening to do it again, but the employer says the cost of the recent demands amounts to a 50% increase over three years. The BCTF says that number is inflated.

Irene Lanzinger: I'm not prepared to use their numbers at all.

Reporter [interviewing]: Okay, what are your numbers?

Irene Lanzinger: Well, we haven't completed our costing.

Ron Christensen: Well, show us where and we will change our figures but our research is…that's what it shows.

Reporter: Whatever the math, both sides are very far apart and the students are the ones that remain at risk. But despite the impending strike vote, the parties are set to meet again next Wednesday.