Teachers were on rotating strikes in multiple districts across B.C. again Tuesday

Teachers were on rotating strikes in multiple districts across B.C. again Tuesday

Teachers vote 86 per cent in favour of full-scale strike

Unclear how quickly B.C. Teachers Federation may issue strike notice

B.C. teachers have voted in favour of a full walkout to put maximum pressure on the provincial government, but their union did not immediately move to issue 72-hour strike notice.

The result of the vote, conducted Monday and Tuesday, was 86 per cent in favour, or 28,809 out of 33,387 ballots cast.

B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker called it a “very strong message” to the province.

“So far this government has come to the table empty-handed, it’s time to change that,” Iker said Tuesday night.

He said while teachers are prepared to go to a full-scale strike that’s “a decision we never take lightly” and would depend on how talks proceed with the provincial government.

“You’ve got to remain hopeful that government has learned from the past mistakes they’ve made,” Iker said, who referred to the union’s legal battle with the province over class size and composition and “the government’s chaotic lockout.”

The earliest a full-scale strike could begin is Monday and with no strike notice issued as of Wednesday it appeared the strike start could shift to next Tuesday or later.

A full strike would close elementary and middle schools – parents will be advised to make child care arrangements if necessary – while secondary schools would be open only to conduct exams for Grade 10 to 12 students.

The lack of $50-a-day strike pay – the BCTF’s strike fund was expected to be exhausted at the end of this week – was apparently a non-issue for most teachers.

Sooke Teachers Association president Ian Johnston said the strike vote was held mainly to increase pressure on the government.

“It’s more the signal it sends to government; how strong is our resolve. That’s really what it’s all about,” he said.

The Labour Relations Board was to hear arguments Wednesday on the province’s application to declare exams and final grades an essential service in the event of a full strike.

The province has also pledged to end its partial lockout of teachers at the end of the school year to enable summer school operations.

The government has saved $12 million in salaries in each week of the teachers’ rotating strike, plus nearly $5 million more by cutting wage 10 per cent based on lockout-retricted teaching hours.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the result was not unexpected.

“While the BCTF leadership received the mandate they sought, no one should interpret this as any kind of enthusiasm on the part of teachers to shut down schools,” he said.

He said teachers, parents and students would all rather finish the school year on a positive note, adding it took just five days of hard bargaining to secure a new contract for school support staff.

The province has offered teachers a $1,200 signing bonus if teachers accept its proposal of 7.25 per cent in wage increases over six years by June 30.

The BCTF’s latest proposal is for increases totaling 9.75 per cent over four years, plus cost-of-living adjustments in each year tied to inflation.

The two sides have differing estimates of the compounded grand total of the union’s wage demand – the BCTF estimates it at 12.75 per cent over four years, while BCPSEA pegs it at 14.7 per cent and says other non-wage compensation costs will further increase the bill, perhaps beyond 19 per cent.

“The BCTF leadership needs to come to the table with realistic expectations and a willingness to engage in meaningful bargaining,” Fassbender said. “Teachers deserve a raise but their total compensation demands are about four times more than other recent settlements.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to winds, adverse weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

Most Read