The government expects some sort of job action by B.C. teachers before the end of this school year but not a full-scale walkout, the CBC reported Friday.
That information came from the government’s chief negotiator, Peter Cameron, who held a technical briefing for reporters Friday morning about teacher bargaining and the lack of progress on key issues such as wages and class size/composition.
While the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has a strike mandate from members, it has promised to poll them again before staging a full-scale walkout. The union also says it’s still hopeful a contract can be negotiated without a strike.
“If a first stage of job action does become necessary, it will have no impact on students’ learning,” the union said in a recent letter to parents. “Teachers will continue to be in classrooms teaching, preparing lessons and assessing students. They will continue participating in voluntary activities. Teachers will also continue writing report cards and communicating with parents.
“If at some point talks stall or government won’t make fair and reasonable proposals, rotating strikes would be the next step.”
The union told me Friday that it hasn’t set a timeline for job action. But it admitted optimism about reaching a deal is fading given the lack of progress at the table.
The two sides are far apart on the issue of wages, with the BCTF seeking a 13.5 per cent increase over three years and the government offering seven per cent over six years in a ten-year deal (which would allow another round of salary negotiations for the last four years).
The union has applied to the Labour Relations Board for essential services designations, as is required before any strike action under the B.C. law that declares education an essential service. The LRB will set rules for job action, as it did in 2011-12.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization.