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Teachers convention addresses bargaining issues

About 700 delegates at the BC Teachers' Federation Annual General Meeting endorsed the 2006-07 Leadership Report brought forward by BCTF President Jinny Sims and the 11-member Executive Committee today.

The report included a focus on collective bargaining, on professional leadership, on social justice, on alliances with the BC Federation of Labour, and on strengthening the BCTF as an organization with nine decades of history advocating for students and teachers.

The report notes that the willingness of teachers to take a strong stand in defense of quality public education has changed the political landscape in the past year.

"Our growing concerns about class size and composition really struck a chord with British Columbians, and earned us the active support of parents and the general public," said Sims. "Now parents as well as teachers are saying this government has got to fulfill the commitments made at the end of our strike."

Monday's meeting focuses on the objectives and strategies for collective bargaining this spring. "Our goal is to negotiate an agreement before the contract expires at the end of the school year," Sims said. "I feel confident we could do so with goodwill on both sides and an understanding that students' learning conditions and teachers' working conditions must be addressed."

Sims pointed out that even the government's own statistics show that more than 9,200 classrooms have 31 or more students, and almost 11,000 classes have 4 or more students with special needs.

"That's simply unacceptable, especially considering that the government changed the definition of special needs to reduce the numbers of children qualifying for additional support," she said. "In addition, the ministry's numbers only reflect identified students with special needs, and we have thousands on waiting lists just to be assessed."

This is the BCTF's 90th AGM. It continues through to Tuesday evening at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Vancouver.

For more information, please call Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-340-1959.

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