01/26/2013 15:11 EST | Updated 03/28/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. teachers bargaining framework approved

The BC Teachers' Federation and its direct employer have approved a new bargaining framework for the next round of contract negotiations.

Union President Susan Lambert says the new deal with the B.C. Public School Employers' Association allows for earlier bargaining and a facilitator to help negotiations.

Lambert said she thinks teachers are glad for some upbeat news, “after so many years of frustration and disappointment.”

“This particular understanding has really, really heartened teachers that maybe there is some compromise that can be made,” Lambert told CBC News Saturday.

The BCTF voted in favour on Saturday morning while the BCSPEA board gave it the thumbs up later in the day.

The progress in this aspect of the teachers’ bargaining comes in stark contrast to the BCTF’s flat rejection of a 10-year deal proposed by the B.C. government Thursday.

The proposal, intended to bring some long-term stability to the rocky relations between teachers and government, would take away “constitutional rights” given to teachers by the courts to negotiate class sizes and composition, Lambert said.

In April 2011, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the provincial government violated teachers' rights by taking away their right to negotiate those issues.

Also, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled in August that administrators can't dictate rules around working conditions for teachers.

The bargaining framework now agreed on only sets out a timetable and some conditions of bargaining, not specific proposals.

Bargaining will begin Feb. 4 and proposals will be exchanged by March 1. The agreement also calls for a facilitator to assist with bargaining.

The current collective agreement between the BCTF and BCSPEA expires June 30.