B.C. teachers to serve strike notice

B.C. teachers to serve notice to start full-scale strike Tuesday

  • Jun. 11, 2014 5:00 p.m.

By James Keller, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s teachers intend to launch a full-scale strike beginning next Tuesday, potentially keeping students across the province out of the classroom for the remainder of the school year.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation told its more than 40,000 members in an email Wednesday evening that the union planned to serve 72-hour strike notice.

A day earlier, the union announced teachers had voted overwhelmingly in favour of a full-scale walkout, after several weeks of one-day strikes that rotated between the province’s school districts.

“We believe that at this time, the best way to increase the pressure at the bargaining table is with increased job action,” the union email said.

“Given growing public support, our high strike vote, our determination and resolve, it is time to act.”

The email said bargaining is expected to continue “non-stop” throughout the weekend and it’s possible an agreement could be reached before next Tuesday.

However, the email also advised teachers to retrieve any personal items they might require during the summer before they leave at the end of the week.

Union president Jim Iker was not available to comment. He was expected to hold a news conference on Thursday morning detailing the strike plans.

The union has said it would not be able to offer teachers strike pay during a full-scale walkout.

The teachers have been staging a series of escalating measures during the current round of negotiations, first withdrawing some services and then moving to the rotating strikes, which began last month.

The provincial government responded to the rotating strikes by partially locking out teachers and docking 10 per cent pay. It also announced it would lock out for all secondary school teachers on June 25 and 26, with all teachers fully locked out on June 27.

The dispute has focused on wages and issues such as class size and composition, and the two sides still appear far apart on all of those issues.

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, which negotiates on behalf of the province, has applied to the Labour Relations Board for an essential services order in the event of a full-scale strike. Specifically, the association wants an order to require teachers to administer and mark exams, prepare report cards and submit students’ final grades.

A case management meeting was set for Wednesday evening in front of the Labour Relations Board. The meeting was not open to the public and a full hearing has not been scheduled.

Members who cast ballots voted 86 per cent in favour of striking — a vote the union said was designed to increase the pressure on the provincial government.

“I feel the same amount of pressure — as I think our government does — to get a negotiated settlement as we felt a week ago, a month ago and even a year ago,” Education Minister Peter Fassbender said in an interview Wednesday, before the union announced its plans to file strike notice.

“We want to get a negotiated settlement. We would like to see the strike action and disruption stop so the students can finish the school year with no disruption.”

Fassbender said the government has made significant concessions, such as abandoning its push for a 10-year contract, but he said the union has not been as flexible.

“They keep saying we need to come to the table with more money, in short: ‘Give us everything we want and then we’ll be happy,'” said Fassbender.

“That’s not realistic.”

The union has said it it’s asking for a 9.75 per cent wage increase over four years, but the government claims the figure is closer to 19 per cent when cost-of-living increases and other benefits are taken into account.

The employers’ association has offered 7.3 per cent over six years, along with a $1,200 signing bonus if a deal is reached before the end of the school year.

The province says it’s saved $12 million each week in teacher salaries during the job action, plus nearly $5 million more by chopping wages and it could save an additional $82.5 million each week in the event of a full-blown strike.

The education minister declined to speculate whether the savings from the strike could be used to fund improvements to the teachers’ contract.

“I would rather see us stay at the table and for the (union) to cancel its strike action so there would be no savings but there would be stability for the rest of the school year,” said Fassbender.

___

Follow @ByJamesKeller on Twitter

Just Posted

Victoria’s roving tent city moves to Goldstream Park

Police from around the region evicted Camp Namegans from provincial land near Uptown early Tuesday morning

Tent city break-up leaves mobile clinic seeking Greater Victoria’s homeless

Clinic nurse has witnessed rise in sex work, drug use following tent city disbandment

Victoria wants more information on money laundering prevention in casinos

Council is hesitant to open new casino after Lower Mainland sites were found cleaning illicit cash

Social media attack ads a ‘distraction from democracy’ says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps

‘Elections are won on the doorstep. Elections are not won on Facebook,’ says incumbent mayor

Torquay Elementary changes plans for portable on playground

PAC and School District 61 to discuss where to place a new childcare portable

Oak Bay Fitness opens its doors with free classes

Top calibre instructors welcome public to 10,000 sq ft training facility

‘Sesame Street’ wants to clarify: Bert and Ernie aren’t gay

The characters are best friends and have many human traits but “remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation”

Province announces 74 new French teaching spots at SFU, UBC

Needed to fill demand for increasingly popular French immersion programs in B.C.

Saanich mayoral candidates in middle of legal dispute prepare for first face off

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes will be among four mayoral candidates Thursday’s forum

B.C. Rural Party co-founder rebukes pro-NDP accusation

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen disputes being NDP campaign supporter

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Most Read