A prospective agreement between the provincial government and teachers includes a hefty pay hike, but Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers’ union gives the deal a failing grade.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is advising that local unions approve the agreement, but Jeremy Inscho, Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association president, recommends members reject it. The reasons are complicated, he said, but SD68 teachers face “complex, difficult … dangerous working conditions” with students with complex needs, something he said isn’t addressed.
Students are coming to school with “deficits” in their interpersonal skills and functioning, he said, which is problematic.
“We’ve got students with violent behaviours. We have teachers and other education workers who have to wear Kevlar sleeves in order to protect themselves from being bit, scratched – this is a frequent occurrence,” said Inscho. “We have [teachers on call] who are walking out in the middle of the day because the situation is just not safe, either physically or emotionally for them.”
In addition, specialist teachers are “posting out” of their positions and moving to classrooms as they feel ineffective in their jobs, as they’re being pulled away to work with the “most needy students” due to lack of available personnel and the situation is contributing to a teacher shortage in the district, Inscho said.
There were more than 1,000 unfilled absences between January and June and there were unfilled positions three months into the current school year, he said.
The NDTA also doesn’t think the agreement adequately addresses cost-of-living pressures.
“In the first year of this agreement … we’re still moving backwards in terms of real purchasing power,” said Inscho. “Second year, probably in the range of what’s reasonable, but the third year, it’s even worse. So we’re not going to attract anybody with these types of numbers.”
By the third year of the deal, annual pay for new teachers will be about $6,000-$8,500 more than current figures and $10,000-$13,500 more for those on the upper echelon of the pay scale, said the BCTF in a statement to teachers.
“For the first time ever, experienced B.C. teachers will cross the $100,000-per-year threshold putting you much closer to, or even above, teachers in places like Calgary and Toronto,” said Clint Johnston, BCTF president.
Inscho said Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers will vote on the agreement electronically from Nov. 16-18.
– files from the Canadian Press