Teachers across B.C. began a full-scale strike yesterday (Tuesday) as negotiations between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and government negotiators failed to come to a deal.
Last week teachers voted 86 per cent to strike.
“(Last) week’s vote made it clear that B.C. teachers care deeply about the state of public education and their ability to meet the needs of their students,” said BCTF president Jim Iker in a press release. “As well, it showed how firmly teachers are committed to doing what’s necessary to reach a fair deal.”
Iker added, “…We are urging this government to reinvest in public education. Teachers are doing their utmost in an underfunded and under-resourced system, but students are not getting the support or one-on-one time they need. Our kids deserve so much more.”
On Friday in Grand Forks, teachers across the Boundary held at rally on the lawn at Perley Elementary. About 50 teachers and members of supportive unions such as CUPE showed up to hear speeches from local BCTF representative Norm Sabourin as well as several teachers.
“It was hugely successful,” said Sabourin in an interview with the Gazette. “We were all pretty happy about it. We had a large number of BDTA (Boundary District Teachers’ Association) members, we had a large number of CUPE members there. I think it went over pretty well. It was people speaking from the heart and getting the message out. We were happy with it.”
Students across the province will still be writing provincial exams, after a ruling by the Labour Relations Board.
Students at Grand Forks Secondary School will be writing provincials from Wednesday until Friday (June 18-20) and again on Monday and Tuesday (June 23/24) of next week.
All non-provincial exams for students in grade 8-12 have been cancelled due to job action.
SD51 superintendent Kevin Argue said buses will be running on all exam days except for Thursday and Friday (June 19 and 20).
Argue added that provincial exams will be supervised by school principals and vice-principals.
Picketing teachers must leave an opening for students to get through for their exams.
“There’s an essential services order,” said Argue. “Students and buses must have a picket-free entrance and exit to any site where provincial exams are being written.”
If the sides do not come to an agreement, students from Grade K-11 will receive their last grade received as a final grade, said Argue.
“Right now, Grade 12 final grades must be submitted—that’s in the essential service order,” he said. “We’re hoping things will be settled and teachers are back to work and can provide the latest information on student progress.”
Be sure to check www.sd51.bc.ca and your school website for full exam and busing information.