The union representing BC teachers is claiming a victory at the Supreme Court of Canada.
It has overturned an appeal court decision on whether the BC Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) can negotiate class size and composition.
BCTF and lawyers for the province were set to make arguments at a hearing today, instead, the answer came as a decision from the bench.
The hearing was essentially waived and the panel of judges ruled in favour of the BCTF.
The judges voted 7-2 in favour of the teachers.
This should be the end to a years long battle between the union and the provincial government.
It started in 2002 when the province used legislation to take away the union’s ability to negotiated class size and composition during contract talks.
The BCTF has argued removing it was a violation of the Charter of Rights. The BC Supreme Court sided with the teachers in 2011.
The BC government then came up with a similar piece of law in 2012.
Teachers fought that and won in BC Supreme Court again, but that ruling was overturned on appeal.
The President of the BC Federation of Labour, Irene Lanzinger says the decision came down a lot faster than anyone was expecting.
“Court is a fairly somber place, people behave very well,” says Lanzinger. “We didn’t cheer then because the judges were still there, but after they left and closed the doors and one of the lawyers turned around and said ‘you won’ then we were very jubilant. There were a few tears and a lot of cheers.”
She calls this a big victory for workers across the country.
“This really confirms workers rights to bargain,” she says. “You can’t just pass legislation and run roughshod over those rights to bargain and that’s a good thing. Unions and collective bargaining wins better wages, better benefits, pensions, pay equity for women, health and safety positions, they raise the bar for everyone.”