Students and teachers return to class

Spring break ends, no more walk outs planned – at least for the moment

Spring break is over and school is back in session as usual – likely until at least mid-month.

On April 17 and 18 B.C. Teachers’ Federation members will once again vote on whether or not to further resist Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act. The decision was made during the BCTF’s annual general meeting March 17 through 22.

The Act was passed March 15 following months of work-to-rule job action by the province’s 41,000 teachers and a provincewide walkout March 5. The legislation includes fines of $1.3 million a day for the union and $475 a day for individual teachers who continue to strike – an action plan the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association asked some 700 teachers’ association delegates to support at the AGM.

GVTA delegates distributed buttons and leaflets asking other associations not to return to work until there is a genuine negotiation, mediation, or arbitration process and the fines are dropped.

The document addresses fears of fines as well as of wages lost during a walkout.

“First, there may be no lost days,” it reads. “The threat of a walkout is often enough to get the employer back to the table and more willing to negotiate.”

The leaflet goes on to discuss a potential loss of public support given wage negotiations. Due to teachers’ great work, it reads, polls reflect significant public support for their issues, including a pay increase.

“We were not alone,” Tara Ehrcke, GVTA president said of the plan not to return to the classroom after spring break. “We presented that as an option during the debate and it wasn’t exactly what was chosen in the end, but the plan that was adopted includes a future vote for a full withdrawal.”

If supported by the membership next month, the BCTF’s “bold plan of action” will include a withdrawal of extracurricular voluntary activities and incite a second vote on whether or not to stage another walkout. It also includes a public education component. Several individual teachers’ associations have chosen to act outside of BCTF directives, such as the Sooke School District, which voted in favour of withdrawing extracurricular voluntary activities immediately.

The GVTA was set to meet Monday, after the News’ deadline. Members will have the chance to discuss their next course of action, Ehrcke said, confirming individual associations’ autonomy.

Regardless of action, students will receive their end of year report cards. Teachers did not and have no intentions of issuing March report cards, Ehrcke said. The legal move under their work-to-rule job action was approved by the MInistry of Education and explained to parents by Greater Victoria School District superintendent John Gaiptman in a March 8 letter sent home with students.

Bill 22 reinstates restrictions on class size and composition support that the Liberals stripped from Bills 27 and 28 – action which was deemed unconstitutional in a Supreme Court ruling last spring.

“To take out of Bill 27 and 28 what was ruled unconstitutional and put it right back in Bill 22 word-for word – of course we’re going back to court,” said Jim Iker, BCTF first vice-president. “What we wanted was an independent mediator or arbitrator, instead what we got was a sham mediation process.”

Education Minister George Abbott is expected to appoint a mediator sometime this week upon his return from a trip to China.

Teachers’ average base salaries 2011-12

Greater Victoria $69,512

Saanich $72,498

Sooke $69,612

 

Just Posted

Sofia Watts, Charlotte Magill and Harriet Knight were among the KELSET Elementary School students releasing salmon fry into Reay Creek May 7. (Ian Bruce/Submitted)
Saanich Peninsula elementary students help restock, clean up local creeks

Salmon fry releases took place at Reay Creek and Tetayut Creek

The City of Victoria hopes to improve its cultural spaces this year and it wants non-profits to help. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Grants up to $125,000 open to Victoria non-profit arts and cultural organizations

Victoria Cultural Infrastructure Grant applications close at the end of May

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich health and safety manager named one of Canada’s top 40 women in safety

Canadian Occupational Safety magazine celebrates women leading safety sector in 2021

North Saanich has started the design of a crosswalk at the intersection of Mills and Littlewood roads near Garden Child Care Centre, whose owner Tracey McCullough has been calling for such a sidewalk. As such, she has been echoing a previous appeal by the building’s owner, Heather and Cory Hastings, standing respectively with seven-year-old Jack Hastings and five-year-old Felix Hastings. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich moves ahead with crosswalk near child care centre

Crosswalk proposed for Littlewood and Mills roads parts of approved active transportation plan

Colwood city council did a last minute adjustment to this year’s budget, dropping the planned property increase to five per cent. Last year they didn’t increase taxes at all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood agrees to 5% tax increase for 2021, deferring some expenses to next year

Last-minute changes will save the typical Colwood homeowner $56

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read