Teachers’ wage demands ‘outrageous’

B.C. teachers' demands don't seem to line up with those in other provinces.

Dear editor,

Total number of teachers is 41,000 in the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. In the strike vote, 4,674 teachers voted no and 7,613 teachers did not vote at all. This shows that the teachers are not fully united on the actions of their union. 

It is time to face the facts and reality of what is happening in the rest of Canada. As of today, the governments in the provinces of B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island, are working on contract negotiations with the teachers. No signed contracts in force presently. 

Teacher contracts are a hard sell in all 10 provinces. Alberta’s present contract, ending in 2015, is  a four-year contract, with three years of frozen wages and a 2 per cent raise and a cash bonus in the fourth year. Saskatchewan’s last contract, ending in 2013, was a four-year contract with a 5.5 per cent wage increase. Manitoba’s last contract, ending in 2013, was a four-year contract with a 7.5 per cent wage increase. Ontario’s present contract, ending in 2014, is a 2-year contract with frozen wages. Quebec’s present contract, ending in 2015, is a five-year contract, with a 5.6 per cent wage increase. Nova Scotia’s present contract, ending in 2015, is a three-year contract with a 5.5 per cent wage increase. Newfoundland’s last contract, ending in 2012, was a 4-year contract with a wage increase of 5 per cent. Prince Edward Island’s last contract, ending in 2013, was a 2-year contract with frozen wages.  New Brunswick’s present contract, ending in 2016, is a four-year contract with a wage increase of 4 per cent. 

Here in B.C., the government is offering the teachers a six-year contract, with a 7.25 per cent wage increase and a $1,200 signing bonus if the contract is signed by June 304. Not good enough for B.C. teachers. They want a wage increase of 9.75% over a four-year contract. Not good enough for the B.C. taxpayer.  The average B.C. teacher wage is $89,624 per year ($70,624 in wages and $18,000 in taxpayer-funded benefits). 

The B.C. taxpayer also contributes 16.13 per cent of teacher wages to the B.C. teachers’ pension fund. All in all, a very generous salary and benefit package when teachers only have to work 188 days per year in relation to other taxpayers in the non-teaching profession that have to work 238 days per year.

Completely outrageous wage demands in comparison to what teachers have negotiated in the other nine provinces.

Joe Sawchuk

Duncan