Faced with a government that is unwilling to respond to their most urgent issues at the bargaining table, BC teachers will decide together whether to escalate their rotating strikes to a full walkout.
Teachers will participate in a strike vote on Monday, June 9 and Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The ballot question will ask whether they approve of escalation up to and including a full withdrawal of services.
This second province-wide vote is needed to demonstrate to government and the employer that teachers are determined to achieve gains on salary, class size and composition, and support for students with special needs.
“Yesterday we reduced our salary proposal as part of a series of significant moves at the bargaining table, but the government responded with nothing,” said BCTF President Jim Iker.
“Despite this demonstration of good will, the government remains entrenched in its position. They have not moved on the salary offer tabled back in April. And to date, they have not put a single dollar onto the bargaining table to ensure class-size limits, class-composition guarantees, and minimum levels of specialist teachers into the collective agreement.”
Their current offer would see teachers take two more years of zeros after just coming off two years of legislated zeros. Teachers last got a raise in July 2010.
“Instead of focusing on solutions in the last two weeks, the government moved ahead with its ill-conceived and chaotic lockout. Even before today’s LRB ruling, the BCTF Executive Committee met to discuss next steps,” Iker said. “We decided last night that the time has come to apply even more pressure to the negotiating table to get a fair deal and better support for students.”
Iker reiterated that teachers do not take job action lightly. “This is never an easy decision because every single one of us wants the best for our students, but we believe that parents understand what we’re fighting for. We hope that the vote in itself will apply pressure to both sides and hopefully spur the movement needed from the employer that will help us reach a deal,” he said.
He indicated that there is still time to avert a full-scale strike. “If Premier Christy Clark is sincere about labour peace and putting families first, she can give BCPSEA the funding to bring us closer together to enable a deal. But, she must act soon.”