Province’s bargaining dispute with teachers still unresolved

NANAIMO – Educators are awaiting what will come from a mediator appointed by the province to resolve the bargaining impasse with teachers.

As the end of the school year approaches, educators are waiting to see what will come from a mediator appointed by the province to resolve the bargaining impasse with teachers.

A request by the teachers’ union to quash the province’s appointment of a mediator to help resolve the labour dispute went to B.C. Supreme Court last week, although judgment has been reserved.

Meanwhile, talks between Charles Jago, the mediator appointed by the province, and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and B.C. Public School Employers’ Association have gone forward and the union’s action plan to protest Bill 22 – including a withdrawal from all voluntary and extra-curricular activities – continues.

Jamie Brennan, Nanaimo school board chairman and a member of the employers’ association’s representative council, said details of the meetings are not being released, but he thinks it unlikely the two parties will reach an agreement.

“When one party is challenging the role of the mediator to do the mediation fairly, then you clearly don’t have the trust to engage in meaningful mediation,” he said, adding that while this is a provincial issue, it has local impacts.

“It’s uncertainty, the uncertainty of not knowing whether this boycott of extra-curricular work will go into next year,” said Brennan.

Jago, who was appointed in March, is tasked with helping the two sides come to an agreement by June 30. If no agreement is reached, he must issue a report with non-binding recommendations.

Melanie Joy, BCPSEA board chairwoman, said the mediator has been asking the association some tough questions to help determine priorities.

“We definitely are trying to do our best to make the mediation work,” she said.

Susan Lambert, BCTF president, said the union is compelled by Bill 22 to engage in this mediation process and the union feels that only the government’s objectives are on the table.

“I don’t know if there is going to be an agreement at the end of this process,” she said. “I don’t hold out too much hope, but of course you always do hope.”

Derek DeGear, president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said local teachers are concerned about the outcome of the mediation and seeing rights being stripped out of collective agreements instead of improved supports for students.

“Teachers started this fight looking for improved conditions,” he said.


In addition to the dispute over the mediator, the employers’ association has also filed an application with the Labour Relations Board asking for a declaration that the BCTF and its members have authorized and are participating in an illegal strike.

Arguments on that application wrapped up June 4.

In April, teachers voted in favour of a resistance strategy to Bill 22 that includes a withdrawal from all voluntary and extra-curricular activities.

Joy said these optional duties are normally performed by teachers at their individual discretion and a direction for all teachers to cease constitutes a strike.

“It’s still a collective action, they’re still saying that all teachers shall not do a part of their job,” she said.

“How can it be a strike if it’s voluntary?” said Lambert. “We’ve done extra-curricular bans before and never been taken to the LRB.”

BCPSEA’s position is that the BCTF service withdrawal captures duties that are required of teachers, such as student tutorials, parent-teacher conferences and staff meetings, as well as optional duties.

DeGear said these activities are still occurring in Nanaimo as far as he knows, although teachers are encouraged to schedule student tutorials into their regular work day and teachers are attending but not actively participating in staff meetings.

Just Posted

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Tilray announces new line of products offering more inexpensive choices for medical cannabis users. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo-based Tilray launches new medical cannabis product line

Symbios brand products offered at ‘better price point’ for medical cannabis products

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to repair sewage pipe in the Hammond Bay Road area, which was corroded by gas. (Black Press file)
Corroded sewer pipe along Nanaimo’s Hammond Bay Road will cost $5.5 million to fix

Pipe replacement and reinforcement part of $6.9-million infrastructure project

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Most Read