The school year may look a little different come September. After 90 percent of the 28,128 teachers that voted proved they were in favour of a strike, action will take place on September 6 if no progress is made through negotiations.
As reported in last week’s edition of The Golden Star teachers in Golden have joined with their colleagues across British Columbia in voting to take job action if there is no progress in collective bargaining by the beginning of the next school year.
A total of 90 percent of teachers voted yes in a province-wide strike vote conducted June 24, 27, and 28, 2011.
About 70 percent of teachers in schools and teachers teaching on call participated.
The teachers are fighting for improved learning, teaching conditions and the restoration of the right for local bargaining. The Teachers Federation is also looking for a salary increase, although a government mandate that guides the B.C. Public School Employer’s Association orders that public-sector contracts have no cost increase.
The union claims that although they are working hard to gain a mutual agreement, the government is not complying and is instead handing out ideas that would eradicate years of hard earned rights.
“For example, they have tabled proposals which would eliminate transparency and fairness in hiring practices. We know that every collective agreement involves compromise, but this is unacceptable,” Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers Federation said.
This strike doesn’t mean students won’t be in class. Teachers still plan on teaching and communicating with their students’ parents as well, but the administrative work will not be completed.
“As teachers, we don’t want to negatively impact learning in the classroom,” said Bob Wilson, president of the Golden Teachers’ Association, “however, as this vote shows, we are determined to stand up for our rights.”
Local bargains have been as equally frustrating as those seen province wide.
“Our local talks are extremely limited in scope. So where we have a good relationship, we can’t work out any deals on significant items. At the provincial table, where bigger issues could be resolved, all the movement is in a negative direction,” Craig Hillman, Chief Negotiator for teachers in Golden, Invermere and Kimberley said.
Wilson also stated that although the administrative work will not be conducted, extra-curricular activities that teachers are often involved with still will.
“Our ‘teach-only’ campaign focuses pressure on the employer and the government, while allowing teachers to focus on the needs of students without the distraction of administrative duties.”
September 6 marks the first day of school and if the government and BC Teachers Federation fails to reach an agreement, will also mark the first day of the province wide strike.