Teachers ponder offer

Prince George Citizen, Page 1, 16-May-2006, By Frank Peebles

A contract offer has been made to the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

Monday was the deadline imposed by industrial inquiry commissioner Vince Ready for a serious offer to be presented by the B.C. Public School Employers' Association, the bargaining agent for school districts of the province. He set the date in his April report restoring the bargaining process. The offer was made at about 1 p.m. Monday.

"They made their serious offer and now we have to take some time to look it over," said BCTF president Jinny Sims.
"The mood now is pretty serious, I would say. They have made a serious offer and we will take a serious look at it."
Sims gave no indication as to how long the BCTF would take to examine the document, and neither side would discuss its contents.

Hugh Finlayson, CEO of the employers' association, said he has confidence the offer will be seen as substantial but anticipates it is not the last word on the matter.

"It is safe to say that the offer is roughly equivalent to proposals made in other public sector bargaining," he said. "It is not the final offer, it is a serious offer. We expect the BCTF to continue talking with us. The BCTF indicated they will be back with us soon -- within days, I would think."

Finlayson said the contents of the offer covers more than just salary. Teachers wanted a number of additional areas included in the talks and the BCPSEA has done its best to include those things in the offer.

"There is a considerable set of proposals they have made on other issues," he said. "We think the offer we put forward is a fair offer, a comprehensive offer.

"We are doing everything in our power to get a negotiated collective agreement."
Ready's next deadline is June 1, when a deal has to be reached or a neutral mediator steps in to assess how far apart the two sides might be.

Copyright Prince George Citizen, 2006