The BC Public School Employer's Association (BCPSEA) is making an application this afternoon to the Labour Relations Board on behalf of BC School Trustees. The application seeks to charge the teachers' union, the BC Teachers Federation, for a portion of teacher salaries during the current job action. Apparently they are asking for 5 - 20% of teachers wages.
The hypocrisy is mind boggling. Let's consider the facts.
Teachers are not attending a monthly staff meeting. They are not completing formal report cards three times per year. In some districts, they are not doing outdoor supervision during recess and lunch. They are doing all tasks in relation to teaching including lesson preparation, instruction, marking and assessment. They are continuing to communicate with parents on all aspects of student learning. They are continuing to organize field trips. They are continuing extra-curricular activities.
Most teachers report that the small amount of time not spent in meetings or doing paperwork is now being spent on enhanced lesson preparation, increased individual time with students, and more assessment. No teacher I know of is working fewer hours.
Meanwhile, in 2002 the BC Liberals unilaterally and illegally stripped teachers' collective agreement of class size and class composition limits. As a result, most teachers workloads increased. Increased class sizes lead to direct increases in workload. There is more marking, more assessing, more reporting, more parent contact. Increased class composition also leads to direct increases in workload. A student with an Individual Education Plan requires individualized lessons. This can be a major increase in workload where teachers have many such students in their class(es).
When teachers negotiated provincial class size limits, they gave up salary. A three year agreement was reached with 0%, 0%, and 2%. In exchange, the limits ensured reasonable workloads for teachers as well as improved learning conditions for students.
When these limits were stripped, there was no corresponding increase in pay. Teachers simply lost. The lost salary has meant BC teachers are now eighth in Canada. And teachers report working an average of 49 hours per week, with one tenth of teachers working 60 hours or more. There is no extra pay for these extra hours of work.
The BC Supreme Court found the contract stripping was illegal. The government has been forced to enter discussions with the BCTF to address their actions. So far, the government has insisted that there will be ZERO compensation for teachers for the effects of the illegal legislation.
So for ten years teachers have been working for significantly longer hours for lower salaries. And now, after two months of extremely limited job action, that same government (via its employer's agent) wants 20% of our wages.