Victoria teachers plan ‘day of action’ Monday to protest potential back-to-work legislation

Being legislated is "an attack on our collective right,” said Bénula Giasson with the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association

Public school teachers will start the school week Monday with a provincewide day of action in support of negotiating a new contract with the B.C. government.

On Feb. 27 teachers in Greater Victoria will be among those participating in a “bell-to-bell” demonstration signifying the period of time educators will spend inside their school. After the final bell of the day, teachers will demonstrate outside schools and at busy intersections in an effort to share their message with the public.

“We want to be back at the table to talk,” said Bénula Giasson, first vice-president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association. “We want a negotiated settlement. That’s the message. Being legislated is an attack on our collective agreement and our collective right.”

Education Minister George Abbott announced Thursday (Feb. 23) that he intends to prepare back-to-work legislation next week to end the job action with B.C.’s 40,000 teachers that began last September. That followed assistant deputy minister Trevor Hughes’ comment that he believes it is unlikely the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association will reach a voluntary settlement.

Bargaining resumed locally earlier this month and has been ongoing, while provincial discussions have remained stalled.

“With this teach-only (job action), we’ve been hiding in schools, doing our job,” Giasson said. “This (day of action) is for us to be out there and to let the people and the government know this is what we want: a negotiated agreement.”

Greater Victoria school board trustee Edith Loring-Kuhanga as well as parents and teachers are slated to speak Monday at a demonstration on the legislature lawn at 4 p.m.

nnorth@saanichnews.com