As the new school year begins, so will job action.
On Tues. Sept. 6 Phase 1 of B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) job action will start. Teachers will not be performing administrative tasks such as filling out forms, collecting data, meeting with principals or other administrators, supervising playgrounds, or writing report cards.
However, Campbell River District Teachers’ Association president Neil Thompson said the job action will not affect students.
“The goal is not to impact teachers, students, or parents. The goal is to impact the employer,” he explained. “That’s really important that parents understand.”
For example, Thompson said that while formal report cards will not be issued, teachers will keep open lines of communication with students and parents regarding how students are doing.
“They just won’t be meeting with parents when the administration tells them to,” said Thompson.
Also, while teachers won’t be doing “mandated supervision,” like supervising playground activities, Thompson said they will be spending time with students outside the classroom.
According to a news release from the BCTF, an April 2011 Supreme Court decision ruled that B.C. Liberal laws stripping class-size and composition clauses are unconstitutional, but the provincial government has done nothing to change the situation. And the contract-stripping legislation enabled the government to cut the equivalent of about $336 million from the education budget in 2011 by removing class size limits and guarantees of services to students with special needs.
Teachers are also asking for a “fair salary,” according to Thompson. He said B.C. teachers are the lowest paid teachers west of Quebec, and that they are looking for a wage that matches the provincial cost of living.
Although negotiations began this past March and the collective agreement expired in June, there has been no progress in bargaining yet, according to the BCTF release.
Above all, Thompson said he wants parents to understand that the actual job of teaching students will not be diminished during this job action phase.
“Teachers are going to be teaching students and working in their classrooms, and doing all the things that are important to kids,” he said.