In response to disappointing progress at the negotiating table where the Christy Clark government and employer’s association have not backed off from unfair and unreasonable demands, BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker announced today that teachers will begin low-level Stage 1 job action that only targets administrative duties.
“On March 6, after over a year of negotiations, 89% of BC teachers voted in favour of potential job action to help secure a fair and reasonable settlement,” said Iker. “The overwhelming vote was a strong and decisive mandate from teachers to put pressure on Christy Clark’s government and the negotiators for the BC Public School Employers’ Association. Teachers hoped that the vote would encourage the government and employer’s association to back off key demands, strips, and unreasonable positions.
“Unfortunately,” Iker said, “more than six weeks since that vote, the government and employers’ unfair positions have barely moved. The government and BCPSEA continue to demand concessions while ignoring the BC Supreme Court ruling on class size, composition, and staffing levels. In addition, the unreasonable 10-year term and salary proposals, which include up to two more years of zeros, are still on the table.”
Stage 1 job action will start on Wednesday, April 23, after the Easter weekend. There will be no immediate school closures or disruptions to students. This first stage is administrative in nature only. Teachers will continue to teach, write report cards, communicate with parents, and participate in their volunteer extracurricular activities.
During Stage 1 job action teachers will not:
- Undertake any mandated supervision of students outside of regularly scheduled classes, except as set out by an essential services order.
- Attend any meetings with management other than meetings of the worksite Joint Health and Safety Committee.
- Provide principals or administrators with any routine printed, written, or electronic communication.
- Receive any printed, written, or electronic communication from an administrator.
- Be at a worksite prior to one hour before commencement of instructional time and one hour after the end of instructional time, other than for pre-arranged voluntary activities.
“Despite our patience and our measured approach in bargaining, Christy Clark and her government are once again trying to provoke BC teachers and shut down BC schools,” said Iker. “Job action, even low-level action, is always a last resort because teachers care deeply about our schools and our students. That is why teachers are asking for smaller classes, more one-on-one time for our students, extra help for those who need it, and more specialist teachers to enhance every student’s educational experience.”
Iker also explained that any escalation of Stage 1 to Stage 2, which would mean rotating strikes, will depend entirely on progress at the negotiating table. “Teachers expect the government to abandon the ill-conceived 10-year scheme, make improvements to working and learning conditions like class size, class composition, and specialist staffing levels as well as offer a fair and reasonable salary increase. Our hope is for a negotiated deal at the bargaining table and not escalating job action,” said Iker.