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

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

CRA scam the email edition targeted the Mounties in Chilliwack

Fraudsters claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but the CRA never operates this way

COLUMN: Student voices give me hope for the future

Student Caleb Pennington wanted to know why something was taken off the agenda. So he asked.

Chilliwack newcomers celebrate multicultural community

Local Immigration Partnership helping new Canadians and refugees settle into new life

VIDEO: Rubik’s Rumble a hit at Chilliwack middle school

Students fill gymnasium for first annual tournament focusing on popular puzzle toy

VIDEO: NatureKids “critterscape” at Cheam Lake Wetlands

A group of children helped keep invasive species in check at the local park

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Horse found stuck in muddy field rescued in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge firefighters set up a pulley system to drag the horse to solid ground

VIDEO: Two Maple Ridge contortionists have sights set on Cirque

The Pair competed at the Viva festival in Vegas and are now auditioning for spot on America’s Got Talent

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

Most Read