06/27/2012 12:55 EDT | Updated 08/26/2012 05:12 EDT

BC Teachers' Dispute: Tentative Deal Reached

CP File

VANCOUVER - The B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government have reached a tentative agreement covering about 39,000 teachers.

In a statement late Tuesday, Education Minister George Abbott said the union and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association came to terms after weeks of mediation.

Abbott said the agreement, which runs until June 30, 2013, is consistent with the government’s net-zero mandate and “sets out improved language to manage leave provisions.” He said both sides agreed to more talks on “key policy issues.”

The BCTF said teachers across the province will vote on the agreement between June 27-29, with the results to be announced in the evening of June 29.

The BCTF executive committee is recommending its members ratify the deal.

BCTF president Susan Lambert adds in a statement, however, that the federation was “compelled into this process under threat of huge fines and further punitive legislation.”<

“We have been able to achieve some modest improvements but, above all, we succeeded in getting government (to) take its concession demands off the table.”

The federation also said the mediator must provide non-binding recommendations by June 30. If a mediated settlement is not reached, the government has the option of legislating a settlement after June 30 and before August 31.

Melanie Joy, chair of the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, said the agreement standardizes provincial language for a number of leaves, establishes a process for the local-provincial bargaining process, and renews a number of existing Letters of Understanding.

”We hope this tentative agreement will be carefully considered by both boards of education and teachers, and that they will agree this is a reasonable settlement at this time, ” said Joy.

”We hope that boards and teachers will ratify this agreement and that we can all look forward to the new school year in September with a focus on what’s really important -- delivering the best possible educational experience for our students.”