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The Labour Relations Board today has affirmed that BC teachers do indeed have the right to withdraw their participation in voluntary extra-curricular activities.

In a ruling issued today, LRB Vice-Chair Ritu Mahil found that “the Union has not declared or authorized an unlawful strike by directing its members to refrain from participating in activities which occur outside of class time/instructional hours and are truly voluntary and extra-curricular.”

BCTF President Susan Lambert welcomed the decision saying: “This is a significant legal victory for teachers because it clarifies the distinction between voluntary and non-voluntary work, and it reaffirms that the countless hours that teachers devote to extra-curricular activities with students truly are voluntary. We’ve always known that, but it’s excellent to have it confirmed by the Labour Relations Board.”

Lambert added, however, that the decision will offer cold comfort to teachers, who feel disrespected by the needlessly provocative actions of the BC Public School Employers’ Association.

“Public education in BC has become over-reliant on the goodwill of teachers and, despite a decade of underfunding and attacks on our rights, we have kept on digging deeper and giving more in order to hold the system together,” Lambert said. “Now the employer has taken us to the LRB in an attempt to compel goodwill and force volunteerism. It’s as if they are intentionally trying to shred the relationship.”

Instead of engaging in such damaging legal battles, Lambert called on the BCPSEA and government to work with the BCTF to reach a fair compromise and resolve the outstanding issues in the labour dispute.

Mahil also found that the BC Teachers’ Federation has not engaged in an unlawful strike by directing its members to minimally participate in meetings with school administrators. However, she did find that the BCTF must direct members to participate in meetings and activities which are part of their work duties even though they occur outside of instructional hours. The BCTF will promptly inform its members of the ruling.

For the full text of the LRB decision, go to: http://bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/Public/BargainingContracts/LRB/LRB63467-12.pdf

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For more information, contact Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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