Early end to school year appears imminent
A total of 28,809 teachers voted yes in the province-wide vote conducted on Monday and Tuesday, June 9–10. Eighty- six per cent of the 33,387 teachers who cast a ballot voted yes.
According to the Labour Relations Board, the BCTF is required to give 72 hours notice, three working days, prior to commencing a full-scale strike.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender responded to the vote results on Tuesday, June 10 by saying, “The vote results are 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.
“I know teachers would prefer to be in their classrooms and I know that students and parents would rather finish this school year on a positive note. It is now up to the BCTF leadership to decide if they are going to move to a full walkout.
“BCPSEA has a fair wage offer on the table, one that’s in line with recent agreements covering nearly 150,000 public sector workers – including 34,000 school support workers. The offer also includes a special $1,200 signing bonus if we reach agreement before June 30.
“My message to the BCTF is: let’s stay at the table and get to an agreement by June 30, so we can head into the summer with the assurance that our education system is on a path to long-term stability and focussed on student outcomes.”
Fassbender’s statement wasn’t a day old before the BC Teachers’ Federation served notice to escalate job action on Tuesday, June 17 to a full withdrawal of services.
“There are still several days left, during which both sides can hunker down, reach a settlement, avoid a full-scale strike, and end the government’s lockout. We’re ready to move, but my message to Christy Clark is, come to the table with new funding, an open mind, and the flexibility needed to reach a fair settlement that will support teachers and students,” said BCTF President Jim Iker in a press release issued Thursday, June 12.
Iker explained that the BCTF has provided the employer with notice that the full withdrawal of services will commence on Tuesday, June 17. In addition, the BCTF has provided notice that Stage two job action will be extended to Monday, June 16, with all teachers participating in study sessions province-wide. Teachers will gather together off school property. Schools will not be picketed, but teachers will not be on site.
As the situation presently stands, for the balance of this week, rotating strikes will continue according to the schedule announced earlier. Teachers remain locked out by their employer during recess, lunch, and 45 minutes before and after school, preventing them from doing their regular work during lockout hours.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender said Thursday, June 12 in a press release that although the strike action was disappointing, it was not unexpected.
“That’s why the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) applied last week to designate provincial exams and report cards for senior grads as an essential service. We’re pleased to learn that last night the Labour Relations Board agreed that provincial exams are an essential service.” He gave assurance that grade 12 students would be able to write their final exams and receive their marks in a timely manner.
Fassbender left the door open for negotiations to continue, through the weekend if necessary, saying the government was interested in “putting the disruption behind us.”
“Up to now, the BCTF’s total compensation demands have been four times more than other recent settlements. The BCTF has indicated that they will submit a new wage proposals and BCPSEA looks forward to receiving those.
“Teachers deserve a raise but it must be in line with recent agreements covering nearly 150,000 public sector workers – including 34,000 school support workers. BCPSEA has a fair wage offer on the table that includes a $1,200 signing bonus if we get to an agreement by June 30, 2014.