Teachers across British Columbia have voted overwhelmingly to take action to back their bargaining objectives including improved teaching and learning conditions, fair improvements to salary and benefits, and restoration of local bargaining rights.
A total of 90% of teachers voted yes in a province-wide strike vote conducted June 24, 27, and 28, 2011. In all, 28,128 teachers cast their ballots, of whom 25,282 voted yes. About 70% of teachers in schools and teachers teaching on call participated.
“Teachers take this action very reluctantly but, after a decade of cuts, we are determined to achieve improvements to teaching and learning conditions in BC schools,” said Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation.
Teachers want to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement at the bargaining table but so far have faced a concerted campaign by the government and the employer to turn back the clock on their rights and remove hard-won due-process provisions from the collective agreement.
“The government and the employer are offering nothing to teachers and at the same time demanding much from us in terms of massive concessions and trade-offs,” Lambert said. “For example, they have tabled proposals which would eliminate transparency and fairness in hiring practices. We know that every collective agreement involves compromise, but this is unacceptable.”
Lambert said the strong yes vote shows that teachers are united and are prepared to take action to achieve their goals. If no progress is made in bargaining, the initial phase of job action is set to begin on Tuesday, September 6, 2011, the first day of the upcoming school year. Teachers will continue teaching, fulfilling all their classroom duties, and communicating with parents. However, they will stop doing administrative work.
“I want to reassure parents that their children's teachers will be focused on excellence in our classrooms. Because we won't be doing all the many bureaucratic and administrative tasks that have been added onto our jobs, we'll have more time to teach, to offer individual attention to students, and to keep in close communication with parents,” Lambert said. “We’re looking forward to a year of joyful teaching and learning, without the distractions of ‘administrivia’ that can take so much time and energy away from what we love to do best—teaching.”