As the official days of summer die out, school re-opened on Monday to kick off the fall season after B.C. teachers and the government finally cut a deal to end the strike.
Details of the deal that ended a five week lockout for B.C. teachers reveals the BCTF and provincial government met somewhere in the middle on their demands.
When bargaining initially began last spring, both sides had drawn their lines firmly on the chalkboard.
The BC Liberals would not stray from the basic contract formula that had been delivered and accepted by almost half of the province’s public sector workers.
Equally as unyielding, B.C. teachers were clear they would not accept a deal that denied increases to class size and composition, as they had previously won this right twice in Supreme Court.
In the end, after subjecting parents and students to a five week, full-scale school lockout, the two sides came together at last to put an end to the strike.
On the government’s part, $100 million was added to its learning improvement fund, totaling $400 million spread out over five years. That money will go towards hiring as many as 850 new teachers each year.
To soften the blow of five weeks with no paycheques, teachers accepted a payout of $105 million in grievances, distributed by the union as a signing bonus.
Lastly, to protect the teacher’s court wins in the case of class size and composition, the government agreed to drop the controversial E80 clause, which teachers said have nullified those victories.
Teachers ended up accepting the basic salary increases, subject to the other public sector workers.
This new contract will expire in 2019, at which point we will see if any feelings of distrust amongst the two factions remain.