Teacher bargaining in limbo — Coquitlam teachers

The government's decision to suspend "productive" contract talks and begin a new round of bargaining with teachers has created uncertainty, says the new president of the Coquitlam Teachers Association.

Charley King, who takes over from Teresa Grandinetti July 1, says the BC Teachers' Federation and the BC Public Schools' Employer Association were making progress but talks were suspended this week with the announcement that a new negotiator had been appointed to oversee a new bargaining mandate.

"The government claims to want stability and peace in education but acts to disrupt a productive round of bargaining and that doesn't makes sense, " King said,  "It would be more productive to put resources at the table that we're making progress at," he added.

According to a press release, the province's new education minister, Peter Fassbender, said he asked the BCTF and BCPSEA to conclude matters under negotiation and to use the time scheduled this week to "work out a process or road map forward."


Fassbender also promised to build on accomplishments already made during bargaining and appointed veteran negotiator Peter Cameron to oversee talks.

"We want to keep moving forward, and that means we need the partners to focus on building a joint roadmap before bargaining can resume under a new mandate that is consistent with our election commitment," Fassbender wrote in a statement.

However, it's not certain what the new process will bring, King said, especially if no money is put on the table.

Echoing BCTF president Jim Iker, King said he's not against a long-term agreement, and in fact noted that a five-year deal was reached in 2006. But the key is what the government is willing to offer and and statements made during the election aren't any guarantee as to what will be discussed during official negotiations.

"One of the problems is that paper was a very political document, and prior to the election politicians will say all kinds of things," King said.


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