Rebecca Billard – Lakes District News
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has served strike notice for March 6, 2012 after teachers endorsed the option in a province wide vote.
Following the strike notice, Charlene Seguin, superintendent of School District 91 announced that all teachers will not be reporting for duty at School District 91 schools from Monday to Wednesday this week, with classes scheduled to resume tomorrow.
Seguin said, “Based on the rules established by the B.C. Labour Relations Board this withdrawal of services is expected to run for three days next week.
School will resume on March 8, 2012.”
During the strike Seguin said that School District 91 schools will remain open but she advised parents to keep their children at home.
“Because teachers will not be in schools we will be unable to provide students with instruction or normal safe levels of supervision.”
“Buses will not be running, children should be kept at home and parents should plan for alternate care as needed,” she said.
Sequin said that it is the sincere hope of the board of education that this strike will be concluded quickly so that school operations can resume as soon as possible.
The Ministry of Education noted in a press release,
"The union is in a legal strike position. Under the order from the Labour
Relations Board, they are able to fully withdraw for three days, but the
order is clear that schools are not to be picketed.
This is why the public may see people teachers walking around together with placards in various communities.
Last week the B.C. government began a debate on legislation that would extend the current teacher pay and benefits for another six months, while a mediator works with the BCTF and the B.C. Public School Employers Association in an effort to find common ground on class sizes, special needs support and other issues.
Nearly 28,000 BCTF members voted yes to the strike option out of the 32,209 who voted, after the B.C. government tabled legislation to impose a cooling-off period the end of August and impose heavy fines on the union and its members for strikes during that time.
Nearly 9,000 teachers did not vote and more than 10 per cent [or 4,263] voted against strike action.
Abbott and Premier Christy Clark would not specify how long the government would wait before passing that legislation.
Clark said she wants to give the union time to climb down from the cliff after seven months of teach only strike action.
BCTF president Susan Lambert has dismissed the legislation and restrictions on mediation to work within the government’s two-year “net zero” wage mandate as “bullying tactics.” She said an extra $30 million fund for special needs support this year, on top of more than $800 million currently budgeted, is a crumb that won’t even cover inflation.
“The results of our province wide vote are strong evidence of the unity and determination of BCTF members in rejecting this government’s provocative and damaging legislation,” Lambert said.
With files from Tom Fletcher