About 33,000 public school staff in B.C. have averted a strike after reaching a tentative deal with the province this week.
Signed between the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and the B.C. Public Schools Employer’s Association (BCPSEA), the two-year agreement comes with a 3.5 per cent wage increase and the introduction of a direct pay drug card.
Members of the bargaining unit, which include education assistants, bus drivers, clerical workers and trades staff, were in a legal position to walk off the job if a settlement was not reached by Monday.
“CUPE B.C.’s education workers are vital to keeping our schools clean, safe and inclusive,” said CUPE B.C. president Mark Hancock. “I want to thank all 85,000 of our members across the province, and our kindergarten to Grade 12 members in particular, for their solidarity. It’s only because we held together that we were able to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract, despite demands for concessions from the government.”
This deal is the latest to be reached under the co-operative gains mandate, which was introduced by the provincial government in 2012. The program applies to all public sector employees whose collective agreements expired after Dec. 31, 2011, and provides employers the ability to negotiate wages based on productivity increases within existing budgets.
In this case, that means school districts will have to save in order to be able to pay out the wage adjustments negotiated in the collective agreements.
The contract for B.C. school support staff must be ratified before the end of December.
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