Students and teachers return to class

Spring break ends, no more walk outs planned – at least for the moment

Spring break is over and school is back in session as usual – likely until at least mid-month.

On April 17 and 18 B.C. Teachers’ Federation members will once again vote on whether or not to further resist Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act. The decision was made during the BCTF’s annual general meeting March 17 through 22.

The Act was passed March 15 following months of work-to-rule job action by the province’s 41,000 teachers and a provincewide walkout March 5. The legislation includes fines of $1.3 million a day for the union and $475 a day for individual teachers who continue to strike – an action plan the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association asked some 700 teachers’ association delegates to support at the AGM.

GVTA delegates distributed buttons and leaflets asking other associations not to return to work until there is a genuine negotiation, mediation, or arbitration process and the fines are dropped.

The document addresses fears of fines as well as of wages lost during a walkout.

“First, there may be no lost days,” it reads. “The threat of a walkout is often enough to get the employer back to the table and more willing to negotiate.”

The leaflet goes on to discuss a potential loss of public support given wage negotiations. Due to teachers’ great work, it reads, polls reflect significant public support for their issues, including a pay increase.

“We were not alone,” Tara Ehrcke, GVTA president said of the plan not to return to the classroom after spring break. “We presented that as an option during the debate and it wasn’t exactly what was chosen in the end, but the plan that was adopted includes a future vote for a full withdrawal.”

If supported by the membership next month, the BCTF’s “bold plan of action” will include a withdrawal of extracurricular voluntary activities and incite a second vote on whether or not to stage another walkout. It also includes a public education component. Several individual teachers’ associations have chosen to act outside of BCTF directives, such as the Sooke School District, which voted in favour of withdrawing extracurricular voluntary activities immediately.

The GVTA was set to meet Monday, after the News’ deadline. Members will have the chance to discuss their next course of action, Ehrcke said, confirming individual associations’ autonomy.

Regardless of action, students will receive their end of year report cards. Teachers did not and have no intentions of issuing March report cards, Ehrcke said. The legal move under their work-to-rule job action was approved by the MInistry of Education and explained to parents by Greater Victoria School District superintendent John Gaiptman in a March 8 letter sent home with students.

Bill 22 reinstates restrictions on class size and composition support that the Liberals stripped from Bills 27 and 28 – action which was deemed unconstitutional in a Supreme Court ruling last spring.

“To take out of Bill 27 and 28 what was ruled unconstitutional and put it right back in Bill 22 word-for word – of course we’re going back to court,” said Jim Iker, BCTF first vice-president. “What we wanted was an independent mediator or arbitrator, instead what we got was a sham mediation process.”

Education Minister George Abbott is expected to appoint a mediator sometime this week upon his return from a trip to China.

Teachers’ average base salaries 2011-12

Greater Victoria $69,512

Saanich $72,498

Sooke $69,612

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grieving together, but apart: How funeral homes are handling the pandemic

‘Hugs are so important and right now hugs can’t happen’

Sidney Lions, Peninsula-raised designer craft nearly 200 masks for area seniors

182 masks were distributed to four Saanich Peninsula care homes

What Sooke School District schools will look like on first day of reopening

No water fountains, rotating schedules and face masks not required

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Most Read