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A month after Premier Christy Clark said she wants to try and come to terms on a new ten year deal with BC's teachers there are conflicting reports on what progress, if any, is being made.
When asked if the province has made any effort to get bargaining talks going, BCTF president Susan Lambert said "No, we have been asked to...we were asked to a meeting on bargaining structures which is completely distinct from the content of a collective agreement but it was on process we have been asked to submit a brief to government on teacher bargaining structures."
Lambert says sorting out bargaining structures and actually bargaining are two different things.
"It is completely separate, the structure of bargaining is completely separate from the process of negotiating a collective agreement. If we have a government that is willing to come to the table and respectfully negotiate a collective agreement we can do that, we could have done that readily in the last round of bargaining."
But with the deal the teachers just agreed to with the BC Government expiring in June, Lambert says the clock is ticking.
"Absolutely, it should start now in my view."
However Education Minister Don McRae says the first steps have already been taken.
"We are stil in the consultation phase we are making sure to reach out to the BCTF, school trustees, the principals, vice-principals, and parents in fact I am meeting with the BCTF, I believe, in the very near future and we want to make sure that we see if there is an opportunity to have a long term deal for all party's involved it is good for the students, it is good for the teachers, it is good for parents we have to give it our best efforts."
McRae says first priority is fixing bargaining itself.
"It comes down to what the stakeholders believe are the barriers that have happened in contract negotiations in the past and that is what I am looking forward to hearing from especially grouops like the BCTF, and the Trustees Association, you know are there things the government can do better, are there things that those individual groups can do better to make sure we get a deal done."
McRae says he is aware the window is narrow to get bargaining underway and a possible ten year deal done.
"You know what I would like to have something done, or in process before the election if possible there are a whole bunch of pieces that government maybe has to do and some things take time whether it is writing legislation or making structural changes and maybe for the other groups the same thing the key thing is are we moving forward are we trying to make the system, bargaining system, for all party's involved."
He says other unions have managed to constructively bargain contracts with the province round after round, so why not the teachers.