BC teachers are taking steps to keep all their options open to resist the imposition of a legislated contract. Despite the BCTF’s offer to go to mediation or even arbitration, Education Minister George Abbott has signalled he intends to bring in legislation as early as possible next week.
BC Teachers’ Federation President Susan Lambert said that teachers are determined to use every possible avenue to forestall an imposed contract. “Teachers are unequivocally opposed to legislation to end this round of bargaining,” she said. “It’s yet another assault on free collective bargaining rights.”
The BCTF has applied to the Labour Relations Board under the essential services order to set the parameters for the next phase of legal job action. BCTF lawyers will be before the LRB on Monday, February 27, to seek details of how the current limited job action could legally be escalated, in the event that government refuses to engage in mediation or arbitration.
Also on Monday, teachers will participate in a province-wide day of action, with union meetings slated for every school at lunch hour and demonstrations in every community after school. There will be no disruption of class time on the day of action. Rather, teachers will be using their off hours to discuss the current situation together, provide advice to their union, and demonstrate their opposition to a legislated contract.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, February 28 and 29, teachers across BC will vote on whether to escalate the limited “teach only” job action to a full-scale walkout. Results of the vote will be made public on Thursday, March 1.
“Teachers are justifiably angry. Offering nothing and demanding deep concessions completely disrespects the deep commitment teachers bring to their work, and leads us to conclude there was never any intention to bargain a collective agreement,” Lambert said.
“More than that,” she added, “we’re worried and upset about the continued damage this government is doing to public education, with at least $100 million in cuts to come next year from inflationary pressures on a flat budget. BC kids need and deserve more from this government.