No new dates are set for local negotiations between Victoria teachers
and the Greater Victoria Board of Education. After only five days
meeting, the Board indicated only that “we will get back to you”
regarding future dates.
The Collective Agreement between teachers and the Board expires on
June 30th, 2011. Teachers are becoming increasingly concerned at the
lack of progress at both the provincial and local tables. Not a single
item has been signed off.
“If no meaningful negotiations take place prior to the expiry of the
agreement, teachers will be forced to consider what to do next,”
comments Gail Renard, middle school teacher and GVTA bargaining
co-chair. “The last thing we want is disruption in schools, but we
need meaningful bargaining to take place now if we are to get an
agreement in place for next year.”
Not a single Victoria Trustee sits on the Board bargaining team. This
concerns teachers. Where is the interest in bargaining when the
Trustees will not even come to the table? When teachers asked the
Board negotiating team why no Trustees were at the table, the response
was that no Trustee expressed any interest.
Victoria teachers rank amongst the highest in the province for rates
of illness and time off work related to stress. Workload is a major
issue in local negotiations. High stress and heavy workload has a
direct impact on students. Teachers are unable to meet the variety of
individual needs when classes are too large or too complex. Teacher
illness creates disruption for students and to program continuity.
While the provincial negotiations are addressing salary, benefits,
paid leaves and preparation time, local issues include a wide variety
of working conditions and professional issues of concern to teachers,
including class sizes and class composition. To date, although
several proposals have been made by teachers, there has been no
meaningful discussion on any of these issues at the local table.