Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association members joined their colleagues across B.C. in voting to take job action if there is no progress in collective bargaining by the beginning of next school year.
Ninety per cent of teachers voted yes in a province-wide strike vote — that took place June 24, 27 and 28.
In all, 28,128 teachers — including about 120 in the local association — cast their ballots, when 25,282 voted yes.
BCTF President Susan Lambert said the strong yes vote shows teachers are united and are prepared to take action to achieve their goals of improved teaching and learning conditions, fair improvements to salary and benefits, and restoration of local bargaining rights.
“Facing a concerted campaign by the government and the employer to turn back the clock on teachers’ rights and reverse hard-won provisions on due process, we have no choice but to take a stand for ourselves, our students, and our profession,” Lambert said.
“The employer is offering nothing and at the same time demanding we make many significant concessions. That’s not collective bargaining. It’s just bullying.”
Fred Robertson, president of the Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association , echoed Lambert’s statement.
“Our school district and districts across the province have been significantly underfunded for the past decade,” he said.
“Teachers have been under increasing pressure to provide services for all students with fewer resources, leading to crushing workload issues.”
Robertson said teachers have watched for the past decade as learning conditions for students eroded and undo stress was placed on the system.
“The proposals we have seen from this government will continue to erode education in our district and our province,” he said.
“The proposals this government has tabled are an attack on education and teachers.”
Failing progress in bargaining, job action in the form of a “teach-only” campaign would begin on Sept. 6, the first day of the next school year.
Robertson reassured students and parents that teachers will maintain full commitment to students, but will stop doing administrative tasks.
“This initial job action is designed to put pressure on the employer and the government, but to maintain regular classroom instruction for students and ongoing communication with parents,” he said.