Schools to open Sept. 6 as strike looms

School district schools will open as normal as province vows to prevent a full-scale strike

  • Sep. 2, 2011 6:00 p.m.
Debbie Morran

Debbie Morran

After six months of failed negotiations, B.C. teachers served 72-hour strike notice to take affect next week when students head back to school September 6.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s (BCTF) “phase one” job action is “teach only,” eliminating day-to-day administrative duties like filling out forms, meeting with administrators, supervising playgrounds, writing report cards and collecting money for school fees, which local representative Debbie Morran said takes up an increasing portion of teacher’s time.

“This will take a lot of things off teachers’ shoulders, make teaching a pleasure again,” said Morran, new president of the Mount Arrowsmith Teacher’s Association. “The start of the school year is extremely heavy on administrative tasks.”

The BCTF said teachers will continue to support sports and extracurricular activities.

School District 69 (Qualicum) superintendent Jim Ansell confirmed that classes will start this week as expected and students shouldn’t notice many changes or impact.

He said the district has been working closely with MATA to ensure a smooth start to the school year and at most there may be minor adjustments around things like safe supervision.

The union and B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) have held over 30 bargaining sessions since March and the teachers’ contract expired June 30, but both sides have expressed frustration and skepticism over a lack of progress.

The BCTF is looking for improved class size and composition rules since a Supreme Court decision in April that Liberal legislation stripping class-size and composition clauses are unconstitutional.

The union is also looking for a salary increase, a return to more local bargaining, and improved benefits, which Morran said haven’t changed in 15 years.

BCTF president Susan Lambert said that despite the high cost of living, B.C. teachers salaries have dropped from leading the country to eighth.

The provincial government meanwhile is pursuing a two-year “net-zero mandate” that requires any public service budget increases to be offset by other cuts.

Morran said they are calling it a “sub-zero” policy since any improvements in one area would mean taking away from another.

“Government continues to come empty-handed to the table, persisting with their sub-zero mandate,” said Lambert in a press release. “Government spending decisions are a question of priorities, and we believe children should be the number one priority,”

On Tuesday, minister of education George Abbott said they would step in to end any full strike by teachers.

“Whether it will culminate in a complete withdrawal of services, or a strike, I guess remains to be seen,” he said at a press conference Wednesday. “But one need only to look at history to know that there have been numerous occasions in recent decades where these withdrawals have resulted in what is termed a legislated solution.”

“And, obviously, no government in British Columbia will stand aside and let schools be closed for a protracted period of time.”

Morran said, “It’s really disappointing the minister would take that action in the midst of negotiations. We’re trying to keep negotiating in good faith, but it’s not going very well.”

Neither Morran or Lambert would speculate on timelines or further strike action and pointed out any escalation would require a vote by the provincial membership and a ruling by the Labour Relations Board since schools are designated an essential service.

Both sides have agreed to meet at least through Friday.

Ansell said the district will be sending detailed newsletters home with students on Tuesday, the latest news will be posted on their website ( and parents can always contact the district with concerns.


Just Posted

The total earnings of Town of Qualicum Beach council and mayor amounted to $186,649 in 2020, including expenses. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Nine Qualicum Beach town employees earned more than $100K in 2020

Mayor and council received earnings totalling $186,649

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Terry Mazzei next to a truck after it was struck by lightning, with him inside, on Wednesday afternoon, June 9. He walked away from the incident without injury and the truck sustained only mild damage; a blown front tire and newly broken gas gauge. (Wendy Mazzei photo)
Nanoose Bay man walks away unscathed after lightning strike

VIDEO: ‘We like to think that his dad was watching over him’

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

This young fledgling white raven was spotted in the Coombs area on May 16. (Mike Yip photo)
Expert says 2 sets of parents producing rare white ravens in mid-Island area

One of the iconic birds is currently recovering at wildlife centre after being rescued

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read