After rejecting an offer from the school district bargaining agency for a long-term contract, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has served notice it will begin work-to-rule action April 23.
BCTF president Jim Iker announced Thursday that 72-hour notice has been given, after union members voted 89 per cent in March to endorse a three-stage strike plan. Phase one includes refusing 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. Report card preparation and parent meetings will continue.
Iker said progress at the bargaining table will determine how long phase one action would last.
(The job action comes one week before School District 69 (Qualicum) trustees vote April 29 on staff recommendations to close four elementary schools (Parksville, Winchelsea, French Creek and Qualicum Beach). The local district has room for 6,000 students but only 4,000 attend school here. The district has an operating budget shortfall of $600,000 that is expected to double every year.)
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.
The BCTF has rejected the government’s offer 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.
There has been little change to the “lowball offer” on wages and no movement on the long-running dispute over class size limits and special needs support, Iker said.
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.
Iker said school districts are cutting staff and programs due to ministry budget cuts, and the ministry should at least cover school districts’ costs for increased medical services plan premiums and BC Hydro rate increases.
— Black Press/NEWS Staff