B.C.’s public school teachers marked one year without a contract with a series of rallies and demonstrations around the province Wednesday.
“We’ve been working at this for a long time,” Susan Lambert, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), said Wednesday. “We’ve put a lot of resources and energy into a fruitless series of negotiations, 78 sessions at the bargaining table.”
But she said she’s optimistic as the three-day negotiations with government-appointed mediator Dr. Charles Jago — who is facing a June 30 deadline to produce non-binding recommendations — and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association started Wednesday morning in a final attempt to reach an agreement.
On her lunch break, Lambert stood along 20 other BCTF staff and teachers at the south end of the Cambie Bridge, holding signs that say, “Bill 22 only makes things worse” and “Negotiate, don’t legislate.”
Meanwhile Vancouver teachers held demonstrations at three busy intersections around the city.
Lambert said she cannot predict the outcome of the bargaining at this point, but major issues such as the increasing class sizes and the lack of support for students with special needs are still not being addressed.
“It will take a signed respectful agreement at the table for this round of bargaining to end,” she said. “A legislative intervention would be the worst-case scenario.”