BC school support workers reach a tentative two-year deal

Talks between the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association and unions representing 26,000 school support workers in public schools have come to an end. Both the sides sat down and formed a tentative two-year agreement that could have implications for instructors who are also involved in tabling the deal.

On Thursday, both sides announced the agreement, saying it is aligned with the province’s net-zero mandate for public-sector contracts but contains a clause allowing fresh talks if the Liberals end the wage freeze before the contract comes to an end June 30, 2012.

There will be no salary raise in the two-year deal, but it includes $7.5 million in new and ongoing funding for unpaid work for education assistants and gives $550,000 for skills enhancement.

According to CUPE spokesperson Bill Pegler, an agreement was reached when the employers gave up their demand for concessions.

“The net-zero mandate is difficult for everyone. There’s no question about that,” he said in an interview. “But it was time to move on.”

While announcing the deal, the employers’ association and CUPE said talks had been two-way and friendly, with both sides content with their success in negotiating more items provincially, rather than locally.

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