POLITICS

B.C. Teachers Stike: Illegal Action Possible As Union Votes

03/20/2012 04:00 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT
CP
VANCOUVER - Delegates representing British Columbia's 41,000 teachers will decide Tuesday on how aggressively they will resist new education legislation by putting proposals to a vote at their annual convention.

One faction has argued the B.C. Teachers' Federation should risk hefty fines and stage an illegal strike, and not agree to go back to work until the government waves the penalties.

Other groups believe pulling out of voluntary extracurricular supervision is the more appropriate action.

Delegates planned to debate the options late into Tuesday.

The union said it would reveal the convention decision in a news conference on Wednesday.

No matter what the decision, teachers will still have to vote to approve the proposed job action.

Union president Susan Lambert said fines of more than $1 million a day for the union are not affordable, but the organization has considered the financial implications and will adopt whatever strategy its members choose.

Government legislation passed last week brings in a mediator, suspends job action and imposes stiff fines against the union and individuals if strike action is taken.

Debates over dozens of convention resolutions have occurred behind closed doors since Saturday at the meeting.

Earlier Tuesday, Lambert was re-elected as president of the teachers' union for a third term.

She garnered 429 votes to 238 for competitor Rick Guenther to lead the union for another year.

Lambert has vehemently faced down the government to oppose the passage of last week's back-to-work legislation, calling Education Minister George Abbott a bully.

Guenther, who has years of experience as a union activist, maintained the union needs to forge respectful conversations with the government.

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