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BCGEU and FSA reach deal with BCIT

The Link BCIT
Photo courtesy of Zahra Premji

Photo courtesy of Zahra Premji

Electronic balloting ended on January 30th revealing a clear majority of the 827 Faculty Staff Association (FSA) members that cast their ballots indicating their concurrence of a settlement agreement.

One week later, the British Columbia Employees’ Union (BCGEU) support staff voted 66 percent in favor of ratifying a new agreement. Another week later, the BCGEU vocational instructors reached a deal with BCIT.

BCGEU Bargaining Committee Chair, Richard Schaeffer said there are still on-going concerns for the BCGEU support staff despite having ratified a new agreement.

[pullquote]“The benefit restrictions that were specific to the support staff were a real issue and will remain so into the next round of negotiations,” Schaeffer told The Link.[/pullquote]

Executive Director of the FSA, Paul Reniers, said the newly ratified agreement includes wage increases of 1% on March 21, 2013; July 1, 2013; December 1, 2013 and April 1, 2014, meaning an overall 4% wage increase over the life of the contract. The BCGEU vocational instructors and support staff reached the same wage increase agreement with BCIT.

Reniers said it’s possible the contract was only ratified based on the feeling that there was no better option, not because of a genuine fulfillment with the terms it carried.

[pullquote]“No one in the union was suggesting that this actually solved any of the issues that we were looking to deal with in bargaining,” said Reniers.[/pullquote]

In a meeting with the FSA members in November last year, BCIT President Don Wright stated he was in support of the requests being made by the union’s members and that he would do what he could to help achieve the results the FSA was hoping for.

“It was pretty apparent that the more action we took, the more the government moved and that’s a sad lesson to tolerate,” said Reniers, “but Don [Wright] did help.”

Reniers said that the prospect of waiting any longer for a wage increase was difficult to bear. Especially because the FSA had not seen a wage increase between July 1, 2009 and March 31, 2013.

According to Reniers, there were other viable options available instead of ratifying the agreement.

“A real option would have been to probably wait and see if a new government was going to give BCIT more latitude,” Reniers told The Link, “or wait and see if BCIT was going to take a different approach to try and get more done with their authority.”

Reniers said that after three and a half days of strike action, the union wasn’t sure if any more job action would have had any impact on the end result.

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