With the current collective bargaining agreement between B.C. teachers and the province expiring at the end of June, Victoria teachers are demanding action from the government at the bargaining table.

The Greater Victoria Teachers’Association (GVTA) said Friday morning in a release that more than 700 of its teachers have written letters to education minister Rob Fleming, which they plan to deliver to his constituency office Friday at 11 a.m. in Victoria.

The current agreement between the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) ends June 30.

The BCPSEA represents 60 public boards of education in the province.

The GVTA says it is losing hope for a new deal, saying the government is not removing concessions for contract language on class size and composition.

The association says they were assured no concessions would be sought in this round of bargaining.

“These provisions are a result of past local bargaining rounds, where Victoria teachers traded salary increases for workload provisions which benefit not only our members, but the students they teach,” GVTA President Jason Gammon said in a statement.

“After 16 years fighting for the restoration of class size and composition in the courts, Victoria teachers will not accept a contract that eliminates this language.”

In an interview with CBC last week, Premier John Horgan said the province is not trying to diminish class size and composition language, but rather to modernize it.

Horgan said he understands the importance of contract language, adding he stood with teachers on the picket lines while he was in opposition.

In 2016, the Supreme Court sided with teachers in a decision on class size and composition.

The legal dispute started in 2002 when teachers rights to bargain on those issues were taken away by the then B.C. Liberal government through legislation.

Research Co. released results of an online survey earlier this month that said three-in-10 B.C. parents described their child’s class size as “too
big”.

Twenty-one per cent of parents believe the biggest problem facing the education system right now are “large class sizes”.

The next item on the list of education system threats is a “shortage of teachers” at 16 per cent.

The GVTA says teachers are looking for a “salary adjustment” that will help recruitment and retention, arguing B.C. teachers are the lowest paid among western provinces living in some of the countries most expensive cities.

“On June 10 alone, we had 47 teacher absences go unfilled. It’s hard to convince a new graduate from Alberta to relocate here for a career with a starting wage of $13,000 less.”

With files from CBC.

CHEK News