NEWS

B.C. teachers' strike action issued for Wednesday

04/17/2014 05:27 EDT | Updated 06/17/2014 05:59 EDT
Citing a lack of meaningful progress at the bargaining table, B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker has announced his union is issuing 72 hours strike notice, but that job action will be confined to a teacher withdrawal of administrative service.

Iker says the job action will begin Wednesday April 23 and could escalate to rotating strikes unless the government comes "prepared to negotiate."

"Our patience is running out," he told reporters at a news conference in Vancouver.

In a statement, the BCTF outlined the first phase of job action, stating teachers would not:

- Undertake any mandated supervision of students outside of regularly scheduled classes, except as set out by an essential services order.

-  Attend any meetings with management other than meetings of the worksite Joint Health and Safety  Committee.  

-  Provide principals or administrators with any routine printed, written, or electronic communication.

-  Receive any printed, written, or electronic communication from an administrator.

-  Be at a worksite prior to one hour before commencement of instructional time and one hour after the end of instructional time, other than for pre-arranged voluntary activities.

Eighty-nine per cent of teachers who cast ballots voted in favour of job action during three days of polling at the start of the month, but an all-out strike is not expected anytime soon.

Iker had already said the first phase of any job action would be "administrative in nature and will have no impact on students' learning." 

The relationship between the B.C. government and teachers has been contentious for more than a decade. In 2001, the province passed legislation that stripped teachers of their right to negotiate class size, class composition and staffing levels.

Last April, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the legislation was unconstitutional and gave the province one year to restore teachers' collective bargaining rights. When the government failed to do so, however, it was fined $2 million in damages.

The province says it is appealing that ruling, and has been granted an injunction delaying the restoration of teachers' pre-2001 bargaining rights until the appeal can be heard. 

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