Rotating strikes begin for Vernon teachers

Heather Malcolm is president of the Vernon Teachers
Heather Malcolm is president of the Vernon Teachers' Association.
— image credit: Morning Star file photo

All Vernon schools will be behind picket lines for one day on May 29.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the Vernon Teachers' Association said teachers do not take this action lightly but they are determined to reach an agreement before the end of this school year.

"It has become necessary to pressure government to invest the resources needed for a fair deal for teachers and better support for kids," said VTA president Heather Malcolm. "For more than a decade, the teachers of B.C. have been struggling to regain important protections for quality education that were illegally taken away by our provincial government.

"Twice, the BC Supreme Court has ruled that government violated the Constitution by denying teachers’ rights to bargain for the things that we know make our classes manageable and help our students learn to their best ability.

"Our students, your children, deserve the best education possible. But, the BC government funds education $1,000 less per student than the national average. That means B.C. kids are getting short-changed. It’s not fair. And that’s why issues like class size, class composition, and more specialist teachers to ensure all students get more one-on-one time are central to our negotiations with government. We always work hard to keep the impact of collective bargaining away from the classroom, but sometimes we have to take a stronger stand to make learning and working conditions better."

The biggest obstacle remaining is that the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) and government refuse to reinstate appropriate class sizes, class composition, and guaranteed staffing levels for specialist teachers.

"The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that these provisions must be returned, and teachers are determined to accomplish that — for the sake of our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions. In addition, teachers are looking for a fair and reasonable salary increase after two years of zeros."

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