The BC Teachers Federation says their members have voted overwhelmingly in favor of job action.
In a press release, BCTF president Jim Iker said the vote sends a clear message to the BC government that it is time to negotiate in good faith and offer teachers a fair deal that also provides better support for students. Of over 29,000 teachers who casted a vote between March 4-6, 89 per cent voted yes.
Iker says there is no immediate job action planned; teachers have 90 days to activate the strike vote, and it will depend on what is happening at the negotiation table. If necessary, Iker says job action would occur in stages, but any initial action will not include immediate school closures or disruptions for students, will not ask teachers to stop participating in extracurricular activities, and will not affect report cards or communications with parents.
Minister of Education Peter Fassbender also made a statement after the vote, saying it is one of the tools unions and employers have available to increase pressure at the bargaining table, but it does create additional uncertainty for students, parents, support workers and teachers.
“Now that the vote is over, I hope the union can focus on tabling their wage demands so we can get on with meaningful bargaining,” said Fassbender in the statement, acknowledging class size and composition are on the bargaining table, and saying that is where the discussions need to occur.
“We will continue to seek a long-term agreement that’s fair for teachers, affordable for taxpayers, and that puts the interests of students first.”
Sarah Holland, chair of District Parent Advisory Council for School District 57 says the Council is hoping for a fair negotiated agreement, without disruption for students and schools. She says she is following the recent course case and ramifications with great interest. Holland says the Council has major financial concerns that the districts cannot fund any increases in salaries or decreases in class size without full funding from the province.