Thursday, June 12, 2014

GOOD FAITH NEGOTIATIONS WITH NLTA OR MORE GAMES


The B.C. Teachers’ Federation voted 86% this week in favor of a full-scale which means schools in B.C. could be closed as soon as next week.  A walk-out near the end of the school year is bad news for students.

The news here on the East Coast is a little better, the war drums and smoke signals signaling similar action have not begun, but the  unions call for Government to negotiate in good faith with teachers sounds familiar.

Teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Public School System have been working without a contract for more than a year and a half.  The contract between the NLTA and the provincial government expired in August of 2013.

Provincial Finance Minister ,Charlene Johnson, has said that the government is "committed to a productive and successful collective bargaining process"  but observers of the protracted situation question how committed the government really is.

Talks broke off earlier this Spring with the NLTA requesting conciliation. The conciliation board has yet to be put in place.

The union has been expressing increasing levels of frustration as the school year comes to a close without a new agreement in place.  The NLTA has been saying that government is seeking concessions that will impact teachers and students. 

A few weeks ago the public reacted negatively to word that government wanted to take control over the process and budgets associated with providing substitute teachers and restrict family leave (time off to take children or parents to a doctor, or time to deal with an emergency).

The government responded to concerned groups like the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils saying that it was not looking to change family leave or assigning substitutes.

That is where it all gets a bit tangly because Johnson says “All government is requesting is that current practice of principals having discretion to call in substitutes be reflected in the Collective Agreement”. To me it is the thin edge of the wedge, keep the budgets for substitutes whole but change the policies on when substitutes can be called in. Too cute by half from my perspective.

Today the NLTA stated that the provincial government is misleading the public about what is being offered to teachers in the ongoing contract negotiations.  President Jim Dinn says the public pronouncements by the government on these contentious issues have not been removed from the bargaining table.

Good faith bargaining from government?

You decide.

I just hope for our children’s sake that the conciliation board process finds a way through this protracted negotiation process that avoids a job action.

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