Teachers begin limited job action tomorrow

Campbell River union head says their battle is with the province, not the school district

Teachers around the province begin stage one job action tomorrow and locally.

The local union head says their battle is with the province, not the school district.

“We have a pretty good relationship with administrators here and I know that isn’t always the case in other parts of the province,” said Elaine Thompson, president of the Campbell River District Teachers’ Association. Phase one job action includes no communication with school managers, arriving no more than an hour before and leaving an hour after school hours, and no supervision of students outside class time.

In some districts, during past job action, recess was cancelled for elementary students.

“That’s never happened here and we’ll be meeting today (Tuesday) to discuss supervision,” said Thompson.

During phase one, teachers will continue with classroom duties, write report cards, communicate with parents and participate in their volunteer extracurricular activities.  In March, they voted 89 per cent in favour of endorsing a three-stage job action plan as the B.C. Teachers’ Federation attempts to negotiate a new contract with the province.

The union has rejected the government’s offer for a 10-year agreement with pay increases totalling 6.5 per cent over the first six years and additional wage increases to be negotiated for the final four years.

The union says the salary proposal isn’t enough, a decade-long deal is too long, and the province isn’t addressing their demands for smaller class sizes and more support for students with special needs.

The teachers are hoping the first phase of job action will put enough pressure on the government to improve its offer.

“Unfortunately, more than six weeks since that vote, the government and employers’ unfair positions have barely moved,” said union president Jim Iker, explaining the need for job action. Thompson was a bit more hopeful, “Hopefully we can get through this without any animosity.”

Phase two job action would include rotating one-day walkouts and the third phase – a full-scale strike – would require a second vote by teachers.