Teachers to begin job action

SURREY – Exercising their rights to do so, the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) has issued a 72-hour strike notice beginning with Stage One job action on Wednesday.

In an announcement last Thursday, BCTF president Jim Iker said the job action would begin April 23 with teachers limiting communication with administration, no longer supervising students at lunch and recess and coming in no more than an hour early or leaving no more than an hour after school hours.

Iker said the job action was being approached reluctantly, but the province’s refusal to budge on certain issues have led them here.

“Teachers will not agree to a 10-year term,” he said. “We’ve asked since May (2013) for the government to move away from that. We also don’t accept the stripping of our right to bargain class size and competition.”

Because the low-level job action was primarily to do with administration, Iker said classrooms would not be disrupted at

this time and parents needn’t worry. He hoped the move to job action would spur the government into taking labour talks more seriously than they have in the past year.

“Our goal remains a negotiated settlement at the table, not the escalation of our strike action,” said Iker.

Iker added that if no fruitful negotiations take place following this move, they would move up to Stage Two job action, which involves rotating strikes.

“You’d see one day a week across this province where schools will be closed,” explained Iker. “But that’s for the future depending on how bargaining is going. We’re hopeful stage one will make a difference.”

Education minister and Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Peter Fassbender said he was disappointed by the BCTF’s decision, but not surprised.

“Over the past few weeks, it appears the BCTF has been more focused on implementing its strike plan than bargaining at the table,” said Fassbender. “There has been virtually no movement from the BCTF on their wage and contract positions.”