BC Teachers demonstrate outside NDP convention

WatchAs NDP faithfuls filled the Victoria conference centre today, teachers, who are used to attending, were out instead lobbying the front steps. One of their demands is a fair deal for teachers. As Julian Kolsut tells us, BC Teachers are hoping when they head back to the bargaining table they won't have to make key concessions.

Demonstrators from the BC Teachers Federation were staking out Victoria’s conference centre on Saturday.

They were hoping to grab the attention of BC NDP Members as they made their way to their 2019 convention — after teacher contract negotiations stalled.

“Since the end of February we’ve been at the bargaining table, so it’s been a long time,” said BCTF President Teri Mooring.

“We’ve anticipated we would be able to get a deal before this, so we are a little surprised it is taking this long and we were facing concessions and we hope they don’t come back.”

Some of those concessions were class size and composition and staffing ratios for specialist teachers.

“[We are] chronically underfunded in many aspects, and we want to see more support and more resources towards the kids we work with,” said BC Teacher James Gibson.

The BCTF chose to hold a meeting at the Empress Hotel, just steps away — in a bid to put on more pressure.

Inside the conference centre, BC Premier John Horgan arrived to cheering supporters. He said that the party must keep the positive momentum going.

Horgan also was targeting Andrew Wilkinson in his speech, saying the BC Liberal Leader is trying to come across as a normal person.

He said Wilkinson should instead try to go to places like Tim Hortons, instead of fundraising at places like yacht clubs.

After he took questions from the press and addressed the protests outside.

“My son is a teacher, out of this jurisdiction, my daughter in law is a teacher in School district 62, I’ve got a niece who is a teacher in the Cowichan,” said Horgan.

“I don’t see why we wouldn’t have people stand up as British Colombians have a right to do and exercise their opportunity to say this is how we feel about a particular government policy.”

Horgan says the NDP is feeling optimistic about future talks with teachers.

“We are optimistic, we believe in free fair collective bargaining, the last group did not, and the contract the teachers they took all the way to the Supreme Court to protect is the contract they signed with the NDP,” said Horgan.

“We are optimistic… class size and class compositions are issues that are critically important to teachers, critically important to outcomes for kids, we support all of that and we are hopeful we will get a good agreement.”

But the BCTF is pushing back.

“Unfortunately we are still facing barriers, and that has been surprising to us, especially given the NDP’s high value placed on educations,” said Mooring.

Even though the mood is tense for teachers, they hope that if they do return to the bargaining table in December things will move in a more positive direction.

“We believe they value education, we believe they value public education, and now we need to see those values put to action,” added Mooring.

The mediator between the province and teachers is waiting for both parties to come back with their next date to meet.

Other groups, like Moms Stop The Harm, were in attendance to put more pressure on the NDP. They hope a resolution for a safe supply of drugs will pass.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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