Teachers begin ‘subtle’ job action

While it may appear as business as usual in the opening weeks of a new school year, the president of the local teachers’ union said it’s anything but.

While it may appear as business as usual in the opening weeks of a new school year, the president of the local teachers’ union said it’s anything but.

“It’s not business as usual,” said Fred Robertson, president of Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association.

“Teachers will continue to teach, assess students, take attendance, communicate with students and parents, participate in voluntary extra curricular activities and go on field trips, (but) our time won’t be tied up with administrative, bureaucratic tasks and endless meetings.”

Teachers across the province started Phase 1 of a job action — the Teach Only campaign — at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Teachers will also not be doing supervisory tasks, such as morning recess or after school supervision.

But teachers are free to coach after-school sports and other extra-curricular activities, said Robertson.

“People are certainly free to — the union’s not saying ‘do this’ or ‘do that,’” he said. “That’s not part of what we do.”

The idea, said Robertson, is to put pressure on the system, both provincially and locally to bring attention to the teachers’ basic 3 demands.

The demands include more manageable class sizes — and the ability to negotiate them in the collective agreement — because “Classes are much larger now than they were 10 years ago,” said Robertson. He noted there are also fewer educators in the system than a decade ago, the same time frame that saw School District 85 close six schools.

Salaries and benefits also need to be adjusted, said the association president.

“We used to be relatively higher than other salaries across the country, but we’ve fallen to eighth and, certainly right now, teachers all around western Canada and Ontario are paid well above what teachers in B.C. are,” he said.

“If I left now to work in Calgary, I could make at least $20,000 more a year than I am right now.”

Robertson said teachers have not been able to renegotiate or adjust the School District 85 benefit package “in any way shape or form” for the past 20 years.

The third demand revolves around local bargaining issues.

“Since the mid-1990s, we haven’t had a process to address the local issues we have, such as teachers on call,” said Robertson.

“Ultimately, school boards and districts no longer have the ability to set their own budgets; they rely completely on what trickles down from the ministry.”

Robertson also had harsh words for The BC Public School Employers’ Association, which negotiates on behalf of school boards with teachers.

“The BCPSEA has not only brought nothing to the bargaining table, they have presented language that is a direct assault on teachers’ collective agreements, and language that has taken decades to achieve,” he said.

“They seek to eliminate all processes that ensure transparency and fairness in hiring.”

And the association’s next move?

“Let’s give this a chance,” said Robertson of the current job action.

“It will put quiet and subtle pressures on the system.”

 

Just Posted

People’s Party of Canada plan to have a candidate in the North Island-Powell River riding

Elections Canada formally recognized the North Island—Powell River PPC Association

NVIATS takes over NIEFS space in Thunderbird Mall

“We were approached by NIEFS, they’re going to be downsizing”

Port Hardy Reigns compete in Nanaimo at Island Championships

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity for our youth in Port Hardy”

Derina Harvey Band – Heartfelt, Energetic, Celtic rock comes to Port Hardy

Front-woman Derina Harvey leads this Celtic-rock act, who offer an authentic east-coast experience.

OPINION: Urgent care room will cost lives

“Seniors, of any demographic, are the most vulnerable to the loss of emergency care.”

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

Most Read