(Editor’s note: for the latest on the labour dispute, please read the stories filed to this website by Black Press provincial reporters. The following story was completed before the union gave strike notice)
B.C. teachers voted overwhelmingly in favour of a full walkout, which could begin Monday.
Of the 33,387 teachers who voted, 28,809, or 86.3 per cent, supported an escalation in their ongoing job action, though no decision has been announced about when, or if, that will happen. There are 41,000 teachers in the province.
Meanwhile the rotating single-day strikes continue across the province, with District 69 (Parksville Qualicum Beach area) out today, June 12.
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker said in a news conference Tuesday that the vote shows teachers are ready to withdraw services, but they still hope to reach a deal with the province first. “If we get that deal, there will be no more job action, there will be no more lockouts and we can go into the summer knowing we’ve got some certainty for September for our students and for our teachers,” Iker said.
“So far this government has come to the table empty-handed, it’s time to change that. You’ve got to remain hopeful that government has learned from the past mistakes they’ve made,” Iker said in reference to the union’s supreme court win on class size and composition and “the government’s chaotic lockout.”
The union is required to give three days’ notice of a walkout, but the union said it doesn’t plan to walkout Monday (June 16) morning, possibly the afternoon or next day.
B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender said he wasn’t surprised by the vote and has already felt the pressure, which hasn’t changed, and he agreed with the union that a quick negotiated settlement is still everyone’s goal.
“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 focused on student outcomes.”
The government is saving $12 million a week in salaries during the rotating strikes, plus $5 million from a 10 per cent wage cut during the partial strike.
A full strike would close schools, but report cards will still be sent home and students in grades 10-12 will be able to write final exams.