Education minister responds to escalating job action from teachers

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Education minister responds to escalating job action from teachers

The Education Minister’s response to the latest move by the union is to deny his government is again trying to provoke strike action.

“It’s not a threat. The reality is if you withdraw services, there is commensurate loss of salary.”

Peter Fassbender says he still hopes a settlement can be negotiated before Monday, but the decision to dock wages up to 10%  if picket lines go up still stands.

“If they’ve reduced the amount of work they’re doing, we will reduce your salary accordingly and we think it is a measured and a reasonable response.”

Under questioning from reporters Fassbender insisted employees who choose to walk off the job should expect to have their salaries docked accordingly.

“There was no threats here. The reality is, in bargaining, there are commensurate pressures that either party puts on in order to try and move towards a negotiated settlement. That’s nothing new. There was no threats to teachers from the province of British Columbia exactly the opposite.”

However Fassbender explains the same rule won’t apply to principals and vice-principals.

“Well, you need to remember that even under the limited action, all of the administrators, right up to district staff have been doing supervision and all of those things, so they have taken on the extra load that a situation like this creates.”

Fassbender says last week’s move to back away from a push for a ten year contract is proof government negotiators are acting in good faith, but union wage demands are still, in his words, way out of line.

The two sides will resume bargaining this Thursday.


  1. As a secondary teacher what have I withdrawn in terms of service? I’m still coaching (not that that is contractually obligated), I’m still communicating with parents and I’m still reporting grades. What have I done to deserve my salary being reduced by 5% at this point? This is completely confrontational and is counter productive to negotiating.

    If I set up for a picket line, then fine I don’t deserve to be paid for that day, but give me a break on the hardball tactics. You’re doing nothing to encourage me to do all the extras I currently do (coaching, grad, supervision etc.).

    • alf 5892: Keep your chin up and soldier on.

      Your leadership should press the government for binding arbitration. While you have the right to go on strike, the government will simply pass back-to-work legislation and impose a settlement, Under the present system, teachers need to have a voice as recommended by the Wright commission. That is binding arbitration. Google it and read it for yourself.

      At least when no agreement can be reached at the negotiating table, binding arbitration will require each side to put forth a final offer or position for a third party to render a final decision.

      In my opinion, it has greater upside for the teachers than for the government which may be precisely the reason why the government cherry-picked the Wright recommendations but ignored the binding arbitration recommendation.

      I noticed that some other posters have joined me in calling for binding arbitration. It is desireable that negotiations be kept out of the public spotlight. Many private negotiations are handled this way. I remember George Garrett, a respected reporter for CKNW,pestering me for updates on our negotiations with the union. My response was no comment and when we have an agreement, you will be the first to know.

      Sadly, some posters continue to stir the pot with political rhetoric. Until recently, one particular poster was touting the Wright Report as the answer to the BCTF-government impasse. He has now distanced himself from the Wright recommendations-particularly with respect to the binding arbitration recommendation.

      Why? Because it will require the government to take steps to properly fund the education system.

      Well, that’s my 2-bits worth. And I expect to be called clueless once again.

      • “Insite”?

        You cannot implement portions of the Wright Report at the end of Bargaining.
        There was a prescribed process to get to Binding Arbitration.
        And of course you realize that in the Wright situation, the Arbitrator would pick one final agreement. That would mean all of the proposed demands would have to be accepted. Which do you think an Arbitrator would choose, the BCTF with 21% increase over 4 years and increases to almost all benefits, or what the Taxpayer has offer. Which is in line with what other Public sectors have accepted?
        And you have already stated you think the Teachers deserve the same as the other Public sector unions, so do that help?
        The BCTF has been against this Commission from the beginning.
        They also rejected Vince Ready’s revised proposal.
        Funny how you didn’t know squat about the Wright commission until it was pointed out to you, and now you are the Wright Commission Guru.

        • Dwight-

          I wouildn’t crow about your Labour Relations experience. You might have had 30 years of experience but what good is one year’s experience repeated 30 times? That’s like repeating grade one 30 times! It really shows in your posts that you haven’t learned anything .

          You’re the one who likes to drop names as if you are well connected and know it all. You avoid the issue and attack when other posters offer compelling and thoughtful perspectives because you are only able to respond in an emotional and irrational manner.

          Somewhile back, you complimented me for my analysis of the Wriight Report. Now you are distancing yourself from its recommendations because I identified a fatal flaw in Wright’s recommendations. He was wrong to assume that government acted constitutionally by stripping teachers of their right to bargain class size and composition.

          You are wrong to assume that the current positions of the two sides would be put before an arbitrator. It would be sheer lunacy if either side stood pat with its current position if compulsory arbitration was in place. I’m sure an arbitrator would give the two sides every opportunity to move closer together. Then, if there is no agreement, he will allow each side to prepare a “final” offer and he will decide which offer will prevail.

          Unlike you, I will not prejudge the outcome if binding arbitration was imposed on the two parties. I will accept the outcomes-you will not. Your problem is that you are unable to accept a contract that might gives teachers any more than what the government has presently offered.

          In our world, you cannot expect to ever see labour peace in education-because you are incapable of compromise.

    • If you are not seeing through your job description and all that it’s to cover, then yes. However, I do not have your job description, so you will need to decide yourself if you are being cheated or not.

  2. And by the way, coming back off 10 years doesn’t prove good faith, when 10 years was completely unrealistic to begin with. It’s like me saying I want a 40% wage increase and then come down to 30% because I’m bargaining in good faith. Complete crap!

    • Alf,
      You sound like a dedicated teacher and I applaud your extra activities.

      Your concerns should be aimed at your union not your employer. They seem to be more interested in fighting and supporting the lowest common denominator. It actually sounds like you would prefer not being in the union.

      While not an ardent Liberal supporter, I do believe that your union is caught up in Marxist socialism from the last century and is more concerned with their concept of egalitarianism (and of course union dues) than the well being of you or the students.

    • Backing off the 10 years may not be big to the BCTF, but it is to the TAXPAYERS, as the Liberals campaigned on a long term deal with the Teachers. And guess what, they WON.
      You and your radical union can downplay it all you want, but the Taxpayers see this as a big move and one that a lot of people will be upset with. They also offered a signing bonus. Something a lot of other Union workers are not happy with, and there have been other moves to accommodate your Union.

      Now what has your Union gave up to reach a settlement?

    • Mike. Not snookums and her band of ilke! They BS and say they are working. Even when snookums is over somewhere eating deep fried pets. All in the name of selling what will be over priced or they will charge us more than they are giving it away for.

    • Mike, you are wrong. They are not voted to just sit in the legislature. They are required to work for their riding. Manage their respective ministries, their secretarial duties, committees and so on.

      I would suppose you believe the BC “N”DP should have docked pay as well? They’re not in the ledge either.

  3. Why is it so hard for Teachers to understand that if you are not performing ALL your job, because of strike action, you should be docked. You people really have to get out in the real world. This is what happens in a strike situation.
    Would it also be disrespectful if the Government (Taxpayers) Locked you out.? You seem to think that YOU are the only ones that have any options in this dispute. You initiated this situation, deal with it like every other Union would.

    • What job are teachers not doing…I thought they were paid to teach…which is what they are doing. If recess cancelled . …it just means more instructional time. So exactly what are wages for an essential service being deducted for?

    • Teachers are doing their jobs. However, cutting off communication with leadership staff and operating with 1 hour on either side of the clock actually cheats the teachers of doing their jobs. Simply put, the union is forcing teachers to bring work home and not be up to date on what’s happening with the district.

  4. I like how he ignores the idea that when teachers go on strike, they automatically don’t get paid for those days. Somehow, the “commesurate loss of salary” also has to be taken out of tje days that teachers are still working?

    What a load of BS.

  5. We have already heard through the very reliable grapevine in a small community that the government has definite plans to lock the teachers out, in late June. This somewhat throws a scutt into our daughter’s grad/ diploma distribution gala gala doo. So sad, as my wife has been heavily involved with PAC for 5 years, Prom, Grad, Dry grad, and just last nite finished ironing all the table cloths from the prom tables. Obviously, this will leave a bad taste, in the graduating student’s mouths. Imagine, 12 years of school, humpteen labour disputes, constant turmoil since K1. Pitiful. You won’t see many new Liberals coming from my daughter’s class.

  6. The current BC Liberal government is a dictatorial one. Democracy does not suit their needs. This applies to many of their ministries. They look at consulting with the public as a weakness they intend to stay clear of. Witness Energy Minister Bill Bennett’s reason for removing the BC Utilities Commission from participation in the Site C Dam hearings. “I didn’t want the discussions bogged down by their questions.” How’s that for respecting the rights of the electorate?

    A government by the corporations. A government for the corporations.

  7. one get rid of Fassbender doesn’t know …. , Second no more money to private schools, why am I paying for someone to go to private school. why not send special needs to these private schools

  8. Commensurate loss of salary means loss of the day’s pay whenever strike action takes the employee off the job. The 10% garnishee of wages is completely out of line with the level of service being withdrawn. A GENEROUS accounting of the actual “time” of services withdrawn is slightly over 1%. Therefore, government is suggesting it will reduce wages at a rate ten-fold the level of services withdrawn. That is why this action will not pass the scrutiny of the LRB and the government will once again have to recant as they did with their plan to dock MSP premiums.

  9. I would suggest, if the government really wants to push ahead with the 10% pay cut, then teachers should ACTUALLY cut their work output by 10%. Mark less work. Don’t stick around after school for extra help. No make up times for missed tests outside of class time. Just a quick one-liner on elementary report cards rather than the extensive reports that exist now. No meetings with other teachers to figure out how to help those couple of struggling kids they work with. Yeah… that would stink… but when push comes to shove, you get what you pay for.

  10. Open Memo To Peter Fassbender, Minister of Education, BC, Canada

    From Tunya Audain, parent, grandparent, long-time parent rights advocate

    Subject — SEDITION

    A year ago when you were just a newly minted Minister of Education the Vancouver Sun reporter, Janet Steffenhagen, conducted a long interview with you. Amongst the many points discussed was your early involvement in Langley as a school trustee and interest in “back-to-basics”. In the interview you seemed to backtrack upon being overwhelmed by system opposition 34 years ago. My statement to you today is that you should never apologize for standing up for parents, and it was parents at that time who wanted more guarantees of the basics taught in schools.

    I wrote a long comment to that 14 June ‘13 article entitled “The Opposite of Stability Is Disruption”. I mentioned the 40 years of turmoil government (of all stripes) has had with the BCTF. I predicted then that that would not stop until the Public Schools Act was changed to the same conditions of operation as governed Independent Schools. (search “sedition”)

    Briefly, independent schools that receive any pubic funds are forbidden from promoting or fostering doctrines of social change through violent action or sedition. My dictionary produces a lot of nasty images for “sedition” — rabble-rousing, subversion, insubordination, sowing discontent against a government, inciting resistance to lawful authority, etc.

    Today, as I read news and social media communications I am very concerned that we are headed for “all out war” as one reporter predicts. Stage Three strikes seem unbearable to even contemplate.

    The social media is seething with threats and disruption to families of public school children. Parents are even expected to man the burn barrels and join strike actions. Here are some choice quotes:

    * All teaching is political
    * My classroom is an incubator for social justice . . . BCTF is a social justice union
    * We are engaged in principled resistance right now

    Mr. Minister: We are long overdue for modernization of our education system. It’s time that parents and their school-age children had a lot more choices to be able to avoid these predictable and harmful disruptions.