Teachers will start rotating strikes next week that will shut down school districts across the province for a day at a time.
Locally School District No. 46 (SD46) will be closed on Thursday, May 29 as teachers take to the picket lines.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) announced their plans to escalate teacher job action on Tuesday morning, May 20, saying the rotating strikes will begin on Monday, May 26 and end on Friday, May 30.
BCTF President Jim Iker said the escalation is necessary after the government threatened last week to cut teacher wages by five per cent if a new agreement isn’t signed by the end of the school year.
“That’s just so disrespectful, so unnecessary,” Iker said in a press conference, vowing to take the issue to the Labour Relations Board.
In addition to the wage cut government also offered some incentives to teachers last week, backing off the 10-year contract and instead offering a six-year term. Government also tabled a $1,200 signing bonus to teachers if they hammer out a new contract by the end of June.
Teachers weren’t happy with what was offered.
“What government needs to do, and I think it’s something I’ve been saying all along is they need to bring more funding to the bargaining table so we can get that deal,” Iker said Tuesday. “They need to bring a reasonable wage offer. They need to acknowledge the Supreme Court decision that restores smaller class sizes for our students, class composition guarantees and more specialist teachers working with students in our schools. They need to acknowledge that we need to have that back into the collective agreement and we’re ready to negotiate that.”
The two sides will meet to negotiate later this week but Iker said teachers are poised to hit the picket lines on May 26.
“If necessary rotating strikes will continue again [the following week] depending on progress at the bargaining table,” Iker noted.
Coast Reporter will have more on this story in the May 23rd edition this Friday.
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