Picketers take a brief respite in front of Port Hardy Secondary School during the Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association one-day strike Monday

Teachers back to work, but strikes to continue

North Vancouver Island public school teachers scheduled for one-day walkout June 6 as part of BCTF's rotating strike schedule.

North Vancouver Island public school teachers went from the frying pan to the fire this week, staging a one-day strike Monday before returning to classes under a partial lockout imposed by the government through the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association.

As negotiations between the teachers and the government remain bogged down, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation announced another round of rotating, one-day strikes next week. School District 85 teachers are scheduled to return to the picket line Friday, June 6.

On May 26, the first day of the opening round of one-day strikes, Vancouver Island North teachers took turns walking picket lines at Port Hardy Secondary, Eagle View Elementary and the School District 85 office in Port Hardy, and at North Island Secondary and Sunset Elementary in Port McNeill.

They waved as passing motorists honked support, and some people dropped off snacks and water. Teachers in both communities were joined in solidarity on the lines by several members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Steelworkers’ Union

Teachers at several locations also remarked on the morning’s sunny skies following several days of steady rain.

“I think somebody up there is smiling down on us,” said Shelley Svatos, a NISS teacher.

While many questions remain in the ongoing dispute, the teachers can at least be assured they won’t be legislated back to work, as they were following their last job action in 2012.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender announced Monday that the current impasse in negotiations on a new teachers’ contract would not be broken through legislation.

The legislature is scheduled to wrap up its current session today.

“To rush to legislation is not where we’re going to go,” Fassbender said. “We want the BCTF to come to the table with a wage response that is reasonable and within the zone of other public sector unions. We expect them to come with something that is affordable for taxpayers.”

The one-day strike on the North Island May 26 kicked off a province-wide, four-day series of rotating strikes called by the BCTF.

It marked an escalation of a job action the union began last month with a reduction in services designed to put pressure on BCPSEA negotiators.

The BCTF is seeking a pay increase and concessions in classroom size and composition.

The government, calling the union’s wage demand excessive, responded to the job action by instituting a lockout that will prevent teachers from entering the school more than 45 minutes before classes  or remaining more than 45 minutes after. The lockout comes with a 10 per cent pay reduction meant to mirror the amount of service withheld by the teachers.

“I guess every 10th (teaching) day will be a freebie,” Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association president Fred Robertson said.

The government has said the lockout does not impact volunteer activities to which teacher have previously donated their time without pay. But teachers here noted the lockout will have an impact as it eliminates much of the time they use for preparing lesson plans and grading papers.

“They say we can still volunteer our time,” said Tammy Bono of Sunset Elementary. “But I’m not going to have time to volunteer for activities because I’m going to have to prepare my lesson plan in 45 minutes. I’m usually doing that until 5 (p.m.).”

The union met with the Labour Relations Board Thursday, May 29, to appeal the lockout.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mowi’s B.C. salmon farms achieve environmental certification from independent watchdog

Aquaculture Steward Council certification complies with 500 sustainability and social measures

Island Health provides Baby Beds for infants north of the Malahat

A safe place for baby to sleep is key to reduce sleep-related deaths

Author chronicles churches built by pioneers in the Salish Sea

B.C. author Liz Bryan preserving a little bit of pioneer history in her latest book

North Island College president to retire next year

North Island College’s president and CEO has officially announced his plans to… Continue reading

UPDATE: Canadian Ferry Association cautions against politicizing BC Ferry operations

Reasonable safety, not politicized safety way to go, Canadian Ferry Association says

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

RCMP disarm man experiencing mental health crisis

The male pulled a knife on officers and then held it to his own throat expressing a desire to die

Most Read