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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 16, Number 4, March 2004

Stripping arbitrator’s ruling quashed

On January 22, 2004, the B.C. Supreme Court held that Stripping Arbitrator Eric Rice made such fundamental errors of law on issues important to the education system that his August 2002 decision must be quashed.

"In light of the fundamental nature of the errors of law, the Determination of the arbitrator must be quashed," the Court concluded.

The stripping arbitrator appointed by the B.C. Liberal government took a much too aggressive approach to removing provisions from our collective agreement and did not properly interpret or apply the law.

This decision effectively means that some of what was deleted by the arbitrator is in fact preserved.

Teachers are justly proud of the efforts we have made over the years to protect learning conditions through collective bargaining, lobbying, and the courts.

"This is excellent news for students, parents, and teachers," said Neil Worboys, president of the BCTF. "The act in question was written to facilitate the government’s underfunding and erosion of services to students, and we are delighted that its implementation has been overturned."

The BCTF will be analyzing the judgment in greater detail before deciding on a course of action.

The government now must decide whether it will go back, attempt to appoint another arbitrator, and try to strip those protections for students again.

Students, parents, and members of the public are now much more aware of the consequences of removing learning conditions from our collective agreement, than they were in 2002. The evidence of the damage to public education caused by the B.C. Liberal policies is overwhelming: 92 neighbourhood schools closed, larger classes, fewer specialist teachers, less support for students with special needs.

– Peter Owens

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