B.C. teachers issue stage 1 strike notice

Some of the hundreds of local teachers off the job on the first day of the BC Teachers
Some of the hundreds of local teachers off the job on the first day of the BC Teachers' Federation walkout in March 2012.
— image credit: File Photo

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation have issued 72-hour notice in response to what they say is “disappointing progress” at the negotiating table with the provincial government.

Federation president Jim Iker announced on Thursday that teachers will begin low-level Stage 1 job action on April 23 that only targets administrative duties. This comes after a year of negotiations and a vote where 89 per cent of B.C. teachers were in favour of potential job action to put pressure on Premier Christy Clark and negotiators.

“Unfortunately, more than six weeks since that vote, the government and employers’ unfair positions have barely moved,” said Iker.

“The government and BC Public Schools Empoyers’ Association continue to demand concessions while ignoring the B.C. Supreme Court ruling on class size, composition, and staffing levels. In addition, the unreasonable 10-year term and salary proposals, which include up to two more years of zeros, are still on the table.”

Stage 1 job action will not include immediate school closures or disruptions to students. Teachers will continue to write report cards, volunteer for extracurricular activities and communicate with parents.

During Stage 1, teachers will not undertake mandated supervision of students outside of regularly scheduled classes, except as set out by an essential services order, receive any printed, written, or electronic communication from an administrator, be at a worksite prior to one hour before commencement of instructional time and one hour after the end, other than for pre-arranged voluntary activities.

Iker said any escalation would mean rotating strikes and would depend entirely on progress at the table.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the strike notice is disappointing but not surprising because there has been no movement from the BCTF on their wage and contract positions.

The union’s opening position of a 13.5 per cent increase over three years remains the same.

“Nobody wants to see a repeat of the six-and-a-half month strike a few years ago where teachers faced no consequences, financial or otherwise, for withdrawing a wide range of services ... That situation only served to prolong the dispute, to the detriment of students, parents and all public school employees.”

Fassbender added he hopes both sides will be equally motivated to find solutions at the table rather than let the strike “drift on indefinitely.”

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