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

RDN adopts new bylaw to prevent backflow

Board wants to avoid legal liability

Former Parksville Generals player lands head coaching gig in Norway

New position is a dream come true for Henry Acres

Parksville resort fire caused by flammable gas used to extract oil from cannabis

Investigators detail reasons for explosion and blaze that destroyed building

Suspect arrested following gunpoint robbery in Qualicum Beach

Stop and Shop Grocery was robbed June 5; man now in custody

UPDATED: Wildfire burning near Taylor Flats in the Alberni Valley

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Update: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Most Read