BCTF threatens full-scale teachers’ strike in next two weeks

WATCH: A day of large developments in the BC Teachers dispute ended with the threat of a full-scale strike next week. Keith Baldrey, Aaron MacArthur and Jill Krop explain.

BCTF President Jim Iker is threatening a full-scale teachers’ strike within the next two weeks if the government doesn’t put more money on the table.

Iker says teachers will take a strike vote on Monday, June 9 and Tuesday, June 10 to get a mandate for escalated job action.

Rotating strikes will also continue next week, with the schedule released Thursday.

“The time has come to apply even more pressure — it’s time to exert the maximum pressure,” says Iker. “Taking job action is never easy and these decisions are not made lightly. The rotating strikes show that parents understand what we are fighting for, and why we must take it forward.”

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Iker says there’s still time for the province to avert a full-scale strike.

He says the government remains unwilling to move on key issues including class size and composition, and the number of specialist teachers for students with special needs.

“There are more than 16,000 classes in BC with four or more children with special needs,” says Iker. “Christy Clark’s lock out has created a lot of chaos in B.C. schools. We remain focused at the bargaining table and continue to persuade this government for a fair deal for teachers and better supports for our students.”

Education Minister Peter Fassbender says the government wants to get an agreement “by the end of June.”

“A full strike is only going to keep more students out of their classrooms, create more disruption for parents, while teachers and support workers caught in the middle will lose even more in wages. There is no bottomless pit of money, and the rotating strikes are certainly not going to help teachers’ and support workers’ pocketbooks,” said Fassbender in a statement.

Earlier today, the Labour Relations Board has ruled that the government’s 10 per cent wage to teachers during rotating strikes is not illegal, and can proceed.

WATCH: Labour Relations Board ruling goes against BCTF

Iker says the BCTF will be looking at all of its legal options in response to the decision.

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The province says the wage cut saves them more than one million dollars per school day, but teachers argue it is just a tactic to escalate the dispute.

The province countered the rotating strikes with a partial lockout and docking teachers’ pay by 10 per cent starting May 26.

The government contends teachers shouldn’t expect full salary when they’re no longer fulfilling all their duties.

But the union’s lawyers argue employers have no authority to refuse wages.

Today is the only day this week the BCTF is not holding rotating strikes in B.C.  The strikes will resume tomorrow.

The full schedule of rotating strikes this week can be found here.

READ MORE: Wage Comparison: how B.C. teachers compare to others in Canada

With files from the Canadian Press

Document: Read the full decision from the Labour Relations Board —


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