BC teachers have begun rotating strikes

0
207

Christy Clark lockout impacts grads, exams, and more: BCTF

Vancouver: Last week, teachers were hopeful when they saw the government and BCPSEA put out an olive branch by backing off the unrealistic 10-year term,” said BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker. “But the next day, hope that this government would start negotiating in good faith faded when the employer announced a series of threats around wage rollbacks, lockouts, and attempts to divide teachers, parents, and students. The BC government’s attempt to make good on their threat to roll back teachers’ wages during job action will have significant impacts on students for the rest of this school year.

Yesterday BCTF President Jim Iker received a letter from Michael Marchbank, Premier Christy Clark’s appointed head of the BC Public School Employers’ Association, in which he states that because teachers are starting rotating strikes, government intends to claw back 10% of their wages. The pay cut will be in effect even on days when teachers are in their classrooms working with students to meet their needs.

In order to justify the pay cuts, government now is imposing a series of partial and full lockouts. Starting Monday, May 26, teachers are prohibited from being at school more than 45 minutes before and after class time, and they are forbidden from working during recess or lunch hour. In addition, all secondary teachers will be locked out on June 25 and 26, and both elementary and secondary teachers are to be locked out on June 27.

Iker said that as a result of these latest directives, teachers could be disciplined for helping a struggling student at lunch hour. What’s more, extra-curricular activities including clubs, drama, music, and sports will be cancelled, graduation ceremonies will be impacted, and final exams for some senior secondary students will not be marked. None of these impacts would have occurred under the teachers’ job action plan.

“We were careful to ensure that already scheduled extra-curricular and volunteer activities continued. We wanted to minimize the impact on students,” Iker said. “During rotating strikes, teachers would continue all volunteer activities four out of five days a week.”

 

The rotating strikes began on Monday, May 26 and will continue May 27, 28, and 29. All school districts will be impacted on one of those days. All schools will be open on Friday, May 30. Any extension of the rotating job action will depend on events at the bargaining table.

The planned lockouts will also impact all Grade 10 English students and Social Studies 11 students who are scheduled to write their provincial exams on June 24. With all secondary schools under lockout beginning June 25, there will be no teachers present to mark thousands of exams.

 

“Teachers do not take job action of any kind lightly,” said Iker. “As teachers, we care deeply about our students and their education, but with another round of brutal cuts looming, we need to act now. With BC funding education $1,000 per student less than the national average, British Columbians must take a strong stand and convince Christy Clark’s government to reinvest in our students. It is time for government to make education a funding priority.

New Democrat Education Critic Rob Fleming in a statement released to Asian Journal said, “The B.C. Liberals should be working sincerely towards getting an agreement with the province’s teachers to ensure the best education for our kids. Instead, they are putting their energy into negotiating through the media, rather than at the bargaining table. The B.C. Liberals are putting students and parents last by being provocative with teachers, despite the B.C. Supreme Court finding that they attempted to provoke a full scale strike during the last round of bargaining.”