BCTF prepares for school strike action

Teachers can begin withdrawing service with 72 hours notice, refusing supervision outside class time and restricting duties

Education Minister Peter Fassbender has been instructed by Premier Christy Clark to seek a long-term agreement with teachers to stop the cycle of labour disruptions in public schools.

After rejecting an offer from the school district bargaining agency for a long-term contract, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation went to the Labour Relations Board this week to establish essential service levels for strike action.

BCTF members voted 89 per cent in March to endorse a three-stage strike plan that can begin with 72 hours notice. Phase one includes restricting communication with school managers, arriving no more than an hour before and leaving an hour after school hours, and refusing supervision of students outside class time.

It does not affect pre-arranged voluntary activities such as coaching, but the refusal of supervision requires essential service levels that compel some teachers to assure the safety of students while they are out of classes.

Peter Cameron, chief negotiator for B.C.’s 60 school districts, said there are some rural schools with no management staff to supervise playgrounds. Typically it is the employers’ association that seeks an essential services order, but this time the BCTF applied.

That’s unusual for a union that has a history of opposing essential service orders at the LRB and the International Labour Organization, Cameron said. It is also a sign that the BCTF is preparing for strike action after the Easter break.

Cameron said if stage one strike action begins, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association will seek an order that the union pay for its extended benefits during any withdrawal of service. That would cost about $5 million a month for 41,000 public school teachers.

“In order that there is in fact pressure on both sides, BCPSEA needs to respond to any phase one activities with measures that put corresponding pressure on the union,” Cameron wrote in a letter to BCTF president Jim Iker.

Cameron’s initial offer is for a 10-year agreement with pay increases totalling 6.5% over the first six years and additional wage increases to be negotiated for the final four years.

BCTF negotiators countered with a three-year proposal with three per cent plus a cost-of-living increase in each year. With compounding and current estimates of inflation, BCPSEA calculates that could amount to 13.5 per cent over three years.

Phase two of the BCTF plan is rotating one-day walkouts in districts around the province. Phase three, a full-scale strike, would require a second vote by members to authorize.

 

Just Posted

Harrison Festival fundraiser dance to have ’70s theme and features Chilliwack band

Chilliwack band The Vacationers to perform at May 31 Harrison Festival Society’s fundraising concert

Seabird Island opens 50th annual festival

The weekend festival will see First Nations teams compete in soccer, three-pitch and canoe races

Lofty plans for Chilliwack school district revealed

Chilliwack school district draws up plan to add 2,900 student seats in five years

Agassiz study to look at drone use for pesticide application

The study will be the first in Canada to use drones to apply pesticides to farm fields

Chilliwack’s pediatric observation unit gets financial shot from trades workers

Unions and contractors donate more than $30,000 to Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Semis catch fire at wrecker off Highway 1 in west Abbotsford

Crews called to scene at around 2 p.m., finding up to six semis that had caught fire at the wrecker

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Most Read