||Volume 18, Number 5, March 2006 |
Major win on class-size arbitration
The BCTF has won a significant arbitration on class-size limits. The BC Public School Employers’ Association had taken a number of positions that were potentially harmful to students and to education. One of the most bizarre positions of BCPSEA was that the employer had to adhere to legislated class-size limits only on one day a year, September 30. At one point the arbitrator characterized the position of BCPSEA as "quite unconvincing." The decision of arbitrator Don Munroe represents a significant win for the Federation.
A preliminary review of the award shows that the arbitrator ruled in favour of the union on the following points:
- The school district must be in compliance with the statutory maximums and averages by September 30. Thereafter, compliance is a continuing obligation throughout the school year.
- Kindergarten/primary split and primary/intermediate split classes must adhere to the maximums for Kindergarten (22) and primary (24).
- In determining the class-size aggregates for Kindergarten and 13 classes "rounding down" in order to achieve compliance is not permitted.
- The union is not required to identify an express provision in the collective agreement in order to show a breach of the maximums and/or averages.
This arbitration once again confirms that class-size limits in legislation are enforceable by teachers. It also illustrates why it is nearly impossible to negotiate an agreement with BCPSEA.
– Peter Owens