Rotating strikes affect Cawston, Keremeos schools

Similkameen Elementary Secondary School teachers set up a picket outside school on May 28, part of a series of province wide strikes

  • May. 29, 2014 7:00 a.m.

Striking teachers stage a picket in front of Similkameen Elementary Secondary School on May 28.


Similkameen Elementary Secondary School teachers set up a picket line outside the school on May 28, part of a series of province wide rotating strikes staged by the province’s school districts. The strikes are meant to be a show of support by teachers to see the province and teachers union return to the bargaining table.

On Monday, May 26, parents of students from SESS were given a five page document posing questions and answers related to the strike action.

“We’re more concerned about class size and composition than with wages,” said Ian Johnson, one of the teachers on the picket line last Wednesday.

“Those rights were stripped away from us in 2002 and we’ve yet to see that issue settled.”

Johnson said wages were a secondary issue, noting that teachers have been working without a contract for a year, with no offers of retroactive pay, although the latest settlement offer issued by the province would have provided a $1,200 signing bonus. Johnson said the province has to give negotiators the ability to come to an agreement.

Following Wednesday’s rotating strike in District 53, an  announcement was made early Thursday, May 29 by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. The organization notified school districts it will continue rotating strikes around the province next week, as negotiations continue to settle their long-running dispute over pay and staffing levels.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender reiterated the  B.C. Public School Employers’ Association latest offer of a $1,200 signing bonus and a six-year contract term, but indicated the union needs to modify its demands and stop strike action.

“I’m profoundly disappointed that while we’re still at the table, with all of the talk that’s been going on, that children and parents and communities are continuing to be held hostage and put in the middle of this dispute,” Fassbender said.

Earlier this week, the organization representing public school parent advisory councils called for an immediate end to the teacher strike and lockout out of concern for students and families.

BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) president Terry Berting stated in a press release that the “feud” between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the government is having a detrimental effect on students, particularly those most vulnerable, and creating financial hardship for struggling families.

The parent group was also concerned about the cancellation of extra-curricular activities, end-of-year celebrations and sporting events in some schools, and was urging the government and the BCTF to concentrate their energies on achieving a new collective agreement.

“Successful outcomes for all students — not just those graduating from Grade 12 — are being affected by this labour dispute,” Berting stated. “This has got to stop.”

Parents are also encouraged to write to Education Minister Peter Fassbender and BCTF president Jim Iker explaining how the rotating strikes and lockout are affecting families.

Social media pages suggested a number of students in School District 53 would stage a walkout of their own on June 4, in protest of both sides behaviour in the dispute. The students see themselves as pawns, with the most to lose from the job action.

The schedule of one-day walkouts for this week will see Similkameen Elementary Secondary School staff walk out on Thursday, June 5.


Just Posted

Reports of chaos in Penticton, involving police cruiser and possible shots fired

Residents also reported hearing shots fired at the same time as the crash

Driver held at gunpoint, car-jacked on East Side Road

Penticton RCMP are asking for the public to keep an eye out for the suspect, stolen vehicle

Penticton care aide training centre a first for the Interior

SafeCare BC Satellite Training Centre is now open in Penticton to help continuing care aides

Don’t miss the South Okanagan Similkameen Crime Stoppers fundraiser

The second annual fundraiser takes place Saturday for the South Okanagan Similkameen Crime Stoppers

New organic, locally-sourced restaurant opens in Cawston

Don’t miss Row Fourteen’s grand opening at 5 p.m. with music by The Tall Brothers at 8 p.m.

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Fire at Kelowna home sends three to hospital

The fire which was located on the second floor of the townhouse complex is now out

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

Provincial Mobile Medical Unit makes an appearance in Kelowna

The high tech hospital on wheels provides medical care for rural communities and during emergencies

VIDEO: Tempers flare during Sagmoen’s police interview

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

Most Read