SURREY â€” More than 5,300 public educators took to the streets in Surrey and White Rock Thursday as the rotating teachers strike landed in the provinceâ€™s largest school district.
The day kicked off with B.C. Teachersâ€™ Federation President Jim Iker joining Surrey teachers on the picket lines outside of Princess Margaret Secondary in Newton.
Surrey Teachers Association President Jennifer Wadge said the mood of teachers on the lines were good, despite the erratic and sometimes rainy weather.
â€œItâ€™s been really good even though teachers are soaking wet,â€ she said. â€œNobody is happy about being on strike and having to lose pay, but teachers in Surrey are happy to be doing something to support the bargaining team.â€
According to Wadge, the majority of feedback for Surrey teachers has so far been good, with many parents and residents reacting positively to the teachers on the picket line.
â€œIâ€™ve heard teachers elsewhere being joined on the line by parents, others brought them baked goods and coffee, so mostly what weâ€™ve been hearing is support,â€ she said.
Wadge added that they also have a large contingent of CUPE workers supporting the teachers as well as Teamsters locked out of IKEA.
â€œWe even had a member from Unifor come out and express his support,â€ she said.
The job action is part of day four of rotating strikes this week, which began Monday.
But while this is the first day of job action to land in Surrey, it wonâ€™t be the last. On Wednesday, the BCTF announced the rotating strikes would continue into the following week as negotiations at the bargaining table have gone stale.
For Surrey and White Rock, that means a second day of rotating strikes, this time on Tuesday, June 3.
On top of the teachersâ€™ job action, employers have begun partial lock out measures as ordered by the B.C. Public School Employers Association, including asking teachers not to interact with students during recess and lunch, not to arrive or leave more than 45 minutes before or after school and a 10 per cent reduction in pay. The pay reduction is being justified by BCSPEA by claiming that teachers are doing less work during the job action, hence they deserve less pay.
That battle will be decided by the Labour Relations Board sometime in the next few days, as both sides presented their case Thursday.
More to come.