VANCOUVER, April 27 /CNW/ - The BC Teachers' Federation today filed an
application at the Labour Relations Board asking that striking professional
staff be restricted from picketing the BCTF Annual General Meeting May 4-6.
The BCTF requests that a hearing be held early next week.
BCTF President Jinny Sims said Friday that while striking professional
staff have every right to strike and picket their work location, they should
not be allowed to disrupt the BCTF AGM because it is not their workplace nor
do they have required work duties at the AGM.
"The BC Teachers' Federation regrets that staff represented by
Communications Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) union local 464 have decided to
attempt to disrupt our Annual General Meeting in order to further their
bargaining position," Sims said. "We fully support CEP Local 464's right to
strike and their right to picket their workplace but that workplace is not our
membership's Annual General Meeting and we have asked the Labour Relations
Board to rule on that."
Sims said the BCTF is frustrated that professional staff who make on
average a $97,000 salary and who receive a retirement bonus averaging $50,000
each upon retiring after just 10 years service would take strike action and
reject what she said was a fair offer from BCTF.
"With a proposed $3000 wage increase over three years, our professional
staff would be making an average of $100,000 while our teacher members'
average salary is $63,000," Sims said. "Our members think that the large gap
between teacher and staff salaries must be narrowed but we are still offering
a significant raise to already well-paid employees, the overwhelming majority
of whom are also former teachers."
Sims said she remains hopeful that a negotiated settlement can be reached
before next week's AGM at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver but said that having
postponed the meeting once before in March it is now necessary to proceed with
the membership's business.
"We are a democratic union that requires the approval of our membership
on a wide range of important issues and we need to conduct our AGM. It is
regrettable that our professional staff would use that meeting to pressure our
members when we believe they have no right to picket there," Sims said.
Sims said striking CEP Local 464 members are opposed to a BCTF request to
end an average retirement bonus of 50% of their annual salary, which averages
at $50,000 per employee, for all newly-hired employees while keeping the
benefit for existing bargaining unit members.
"We think that paying a retirement bonus of 50% of your annual salary
after just 10 years service to employees who make $100,000 a year and who have
a generous pension as well is just not sustainable," Sims said. "But we are
not taking that benefit away from anyone who is currently in the bargaining
unit, just asking that the bonus not be accessible to future hires."
Sims rejected as misleading CEP Local 464 claims that the BCTF is
"contract stripping," noting the BCTF neither has any reason or the power to
do so and that it is committed to a negotiated settlement.
The BCTF has asked CEP Local 464 members to give up compensatory or lieu
time for occasional work done in the evening, Sims said, while it continues to
offer lieu time for any weekend work.
For further information: Call Jinny Sims at cell (778) 994-9924; or
First Vice-president, Irene Lanzinger, at cell (604) 340-1923