Vancouver: The education crisis has deepened in the Province with Teachers deciding to conduct another province wide vote in last six months to decide upon escalation to full strike. Teachers will participate in a strike vote on Monday, June 9 and Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The ballot question will ask whether they approve of escalation up to and including a full withdrawal of services.
BCTF claims that instead of focusing on solutions in the last two weeks, the government moved ahead with its ill-conceived and chaotic lockout. In a press release BCTF states that the government has not moved on the salary offer tabled back in April. And to date, they have not put a single dollar onto the bargaining table to ensure class-size limits, class-composition guarantees, and minimum levels of specialist teachers into the collective agreement.
In a press conference, BCTF president Jim Iker reiterated that teachers do not take job action lightly. “This is never an easy decision because every single one of us wants the best for our students, but we believe that parents understand what we’re fighting for. We hope that the vote in itself will apply pressure to both sides and hopefully spur the movement needed from the employer that will help us reach a deal,” he said.
He indicated that there is still time to avert a full-scale strike. “If Premier Christy Clark is sincere about labour peace and putting families first, she can give BCPSEA the funding to bring us closer together to enable a deal. But, she must act soon.”
Many students walked out of classes on Wednesday in protest against the ongoing tussle between the government and teachers.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender has issued a statement saying,
“While we are disappointed with the BCTF’s plans to escalate to a full walkout, this in no way changes our resolve to get an agreement by the end of June. Our goal remains a lasting, negotiated settlement that ends the disruption for parents, students and teachers and puts the system on a path to stability before the start of the next school year. Teachers deserve a raise but the parties are very far apart on wages and benefits. He added, “BCPSEA has a fair wage offer on the table, one that’s in line with recent agreements covering nearly 116,000 public sector workers. The offer also includes a special $1,200 signing bonus if we reach agreement before the end of June. A full strike is only going to keep more students out of their classrooms, create more disruption for parents, while teachers and support workers caught in the middle will lose even more in wages. There is no bottomless pit of money, and the rotating strikes are certainly not going to help teachers’ and support workers’ pocketbooks. We want this resolved before the start of the next school year and BCPSEA is prepared to bargain 24/7, right through the summer.”