NEWS
05/26/2014 06:21 EDT | Updated 07/26/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C. teachers' strike prompts misinformation charge from government

B.C.'s Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender, has fired back at what he calls "incorrect" information surrounding the extent of the teachers' lockout.

Meanwhile, the B.C. Public School Employers' Association has penned an open letter to B.C. Teachers' Federation President Jim Iker outlining the government's position.

The letter, signed by public administrator Michael Marchbank, states the "partial lockout" presents no restrictions on voluntary and extracurricular activities. 

"If teachers withdraw from participation in extracurricular and volunteer activities, they do so at the encouragement of the union and by their own choice," the letter goes on.

Speaking to reporters in Victoria, Fassbender said "misinformation" regarding concerns over teachers' liability should also be corrected.

Suggestions that WorkSafe BC would not cover any such school-sponsored voluntary or extracurricular activities are "absolutely not true", said the minister.

A letter obtained by government — and given to reporters — from Sooke Teachers' Association states that until further notice, the BCTF is instructing its members to "cease all extra-curricular and volunteer activities during the lockout".

Asked to clarify the union's position on CBC's B.C. Almanac, Iker reiterated that the terms of the partial lockout "made it clear" that teachers were locked out during recess and lunch, and that they were not to be on site more than 45 minutes before school starts, or beyond 45 minutes after the last bell.

More than 41,000 B.C. teachers began staging rotating strikes Monday that will affect roughly half a million students in every public school across the province for the next few days.

Joining a picket line outside a Vancouver school Monday, Iker warned of a second wave of walkouts next week if a deal is not reached.

But the government has already said teachers, whether striking or in class, risk 10 per cent salary cuts if the job action goes ahead.

The sticking points in the dispute between the teachers' union and government are pay, class size and classroom support.

Read the letter from the BCPSEA to the B.C. Teachers' Federation

Read the letter from Sooke Teachers' Association

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