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

Rockslide closes Coquihalla northbound

Highway 5 could be closed overnight in the northbound lanes

Budding tennis stars learn the ropes

Students at local elementary schools get some lessons in tennis

Lawsuit claims medication mishandling at Penticton’s hospital

The claimant says her doctor ramped up her bipolar medication before cutting her off

Indigenous grad rates make big strides in SD67

Educators are praising major efforts toward inclusivity for the recent improvements

Mamas for Mamas founder survives with new lease on life

Kelowna’s Shannon Christensen escaped a dangerous situation and lived to tell about it

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Lawsuit claims medication mishandling at Penticton’s hospital

The claimant says her doctor ramped up her bipolar medication before cutting her off

Coquihalla drivers prepare for snow

Wintry conditions persist, with snow warnings for Coquihalla

Tychonik continues scoring run

Vees chalk up another win with Pink in the Rink

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Most Read