Rossland’s teachers are currently out protesting as part of the escalated job action.
The walkout is expected to last today, tomorrow and Wednesday.
Thursday of last week, the B.C. Teachers Federation announced the full-scale walkout after nearly 87 per cent of the members who voted chose the option to go to a strike.
This week, the provincial government’s back-to-to-work legislation, Bill 22, will be up for discussion in Victoria.
The president of the local Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union, Andy Davidoff, said the government has crossed the line with Bill 22, which among other things, eliminates teachers’ ability to bargain on class sizes and number of special needs students in each class.
Davidoff gave an example of a metal work class in Castlegar that 30 students, six of which are students with special needs. Because there aren’t enough support staff to guide the students through projects they have to be taken out of the class and can’t partake in the projects. Davidoff said that under the new bill, they could up both the total number of students and the number of special needs student in the class.
He said the bill takes away any accountability for having classes like that.
On the faculty side, it takes away seniority rights for teachers that are transferred or laid off, he said, and there is no due process in teacher evaluations.
“There’s no respect for teachers, public education, report findings, the Charter of Right and Freedoms or the rule of law.This governments action is irresponsible and reckless,” he said. “What Premier Christy Clark has done is pour gasoline on a fire and is picking a fight with the Teacher’s Union.”
He argued that if the government really backed up what they meant about not inconveniencing students and parents with missing school, they would have sat in parliament all weekend to get the bill passed.
“They could have legislated us back by Sunday night,” he said, adding that the province has decided there is no rush to pass the bill. “Why do you think that’s the case? Because they want to make teachers look bad.”
There will be a rally at the cenotaph in Trail, Wednesday at 3 p.m. to voice thoughts and concerns for Bill 22. Davidoff said the rally will represent everyone from the school district and is jointly sponsored by CUPE and the KCTU.
“We’re inviting anyone that cares about public education to come to the rally,” he added.