Students in Nanaimo are back in school today (Sept. 23).
The B.C. teachers’ strike officially ended Thursday night when 86 per cent of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation members voted to approve a deal with the province. About 77 per cent of an approximate membership of 41,000 teachers cast ballots.
The deal runs until 2019 and Mike Ball, president of Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said teachers realized they had achieved the best deal that was possible at the bargaining table.
He also said many teachers who voted in favour did so reluctantly. While the contract has language dealing with the contentious issues of class size and composition, Ball said the two were not dealt with appropriately, as there is only about $15 million in new money to divvy up throughout the province.
“Really, $15 million extra into the education system is not going to address anything,” said Ball. “For [Nanaimo school district], that would mean an extra two teachers across the district.”
Cheryl Heide and Angela Milligan, English teachers from Ladysmith and Nanaimo District Secondary schools respectively, echoed Ball’s sentiments.
“It doesn’t really address all the needs that we have as a province, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Heide.
Milligan said she was happy that there would be labour peace for the foreseeable future.
“It’s nice that we won’t have to worry about fighting another battle for a while, but we’re locked into an agreement that’s OK.”
Schools were behind picket lines from the final two weeks of June until Friday. The Ministry of Education said time lost to the strike would not be made up.