Teachers vote for full-scale strike

BCTF holds off on issuing strike notice, move to issue 72-hour strike notice.

  • Jun. 12, 2014 6:00 p.m.

By Jeff Nagel

Black Press

B.C. teachers have voted in favour of a full walkout to put maximum pressure on the provincial government, but their union did not immediately move to issue 72-hour strike notice.

The result of the vote, conducted Monday and Tuesday, was 86 per cent in favour, or 28,809 out of 33,387 ballots cast.

B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker called it a “very strong message” to the province.

“So far, this government has come to the table empty-handed – it’s time to change that,” Iker said Tuesday night.

He said while teachers are prepared to go to a full-scale strike, that’s “a decision we never take lightly” and would depend on how talks proceed with the provincial government.

“You’ve got to remain hopeful that government has learned from the past mistakes they’ve made,” Iker said, who referred to the union’s legal battle with the province over class size and composition and “the government’s chaotic lockout.”

The earliest a full-scale strike could begin is Monday and with no strike notice issued as of Wednesday it appeared the strike start could shift to next Tuesday or later.

A full strike would close elementary and middle schools – parents will be advised to make child care arrangements if necessary – while secondary schools would be open only to conduct exams for Grades 10 to 12 students.

The lack of $50-a-day strike pay – the BCTF’s strike fund was expected to be exhausted at the end of this week – was apparently a non-issue for most teachers.

Sooke Teachers Association president Ian Johnston said the strike vote was held mainly to increase pressure on the government.

“It’s more the signal it sends to government; how strong is our resolve. That’s really what it’s all about,” he said.

The Labour Relations Board was to hear arguments Wednesday on the province’s application to declare exams and final grades an essential service in the event of a full strike.

The province has also pledged to end its partial lockout of teachers at the end of the school year to enable summer school operations.

The government has saved $12 million in salaries in each week of the teachers’ rotating strike, plus nearly $5 million more by cutting wage 10 per cent based on lockout-restricted teaching hours.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the result was not unexpected.

“While the BCTF leadership received the mandate they sought, no one should interpret this as any kind of enthusiasm on the part of teachers to shut down schools,” he said.

He said teachers, parents and students would all rather finish the school year on a positive note, adding it took just five days of hard bargaining to secure a new contract for school support staff.

The province has offered a $1,200 signing bonus if teachers accept its proposal of 7.25 per cent in wage increases over six years by June 30.

The BCTF’s latest proposal is for increases totaling 9.75 per cent over four years, plus cost-of-living adjustments in each year tied to inflation.

The two sides have differing estimates of the compounded grand total of the union’s wage demand – the BCTF estimates it at 12.75 per cent over four years, while BCPSEA pegs it at 14.7 per cent and says other non-wage compensation costs will further increase the bill, perhaps beyond 19 per cent.

“The BCTF leadership needs to come to the table with realistic expectations and a willingness to engage in meaningful bargaining,” Fassbender said. “Teachers deserve a raise but their total compensation demands are about four times more than other recent settlements.”

 

Just Posted

Snowstorm called for the Kootenays

FortisBC advises electric customers to prepare for storm-related outages

Rosssland ski bus returns this year — with a fee

Company to offer service from downtown to RED Mountain 12 hours a day

Rossland meeting targets for sustainability, report says

Report card gives city high marks in most areas of sustainable development

KBRH on watch for bed bugs after two recent cases

Spokesperson Mandy Lowery says there has not been a bed bug sighting at KBRH since Dec. 8

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning

Very weak layer buried under recent snow a cause for concern

Tommy Chong says Canada took wrong approach to pot legalization

He also talked about the likelihood of another Cheech and Chong film

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Kootenay woman victim of a broken health system

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

‘Both things are true:’ Science, Indigenous wisdom seek common ground

Reconciliation between Canada and First Nations is playing out not only in legislatures and courtrooms but in labs across the country

B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

Broughton Archipelago plan set to start in spring of 2019

Most Read