05/28/2012 01:51 EDT | Updated 07/28/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. teachers warn threat of legislated contract amounts to fighting words

VANCOUVER - The BC Teachers' Federation says it won't back down despite threats of back-to-work legislation if a bitter contract dispute is not resolved by the end of June.

BCTF president Susan Lambert warns her members will be ready to fight if Education Minister George Abbott makes good on suggestions that a new contract could be imposed over the summer.

Abbott says he would be ready to act if a government-appointed mediator can't reach a deal with teachers before June 30.

Lambert responds by saying the union has a court-mandated order for the right to free collective bargaining, something she says the B.C. Liberal government is continuing to ignore.

Lambert hasn't said what actions would be open to teachers if a contract is imposed.

B.C.'s labour board is still deciding the question of what constitutes work-related or extra curricular, volunteer duties.

The BC Public School Employers Association, which represents school boards, argues withdrawal of some volunteer duties should be considered an illegal strike. (CHNL)