Teachers were on rotating strikes in multiple districts across B.C. again Tuesday

Teachers vote 86 per cent in favour of full-scale strike

Unclear how quickly B.C. Teachers Federation may issue strike notice

B.C. teachers have voted in favour of a full walkout to put maximum pressure on the provincial government, but their union did not immediately move to issue 72-hour strike notice.

The result of the vote, conducted Monday and Tuesday, was 86 per cent in favour, or 28,809 out of 33,387 ballots cast.

B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker called it a “very strong message” to the province.

“So far this government has come to the table empty-handed, it’s time to change that,” Iker said Tuesday night.

He said while teachers are prepared to go to a full-scale strike that’s “a decision we never take lightly” and would depend on how talks proceed with the provincial government.

“You’ve got to remain hopeful that government has learned from the past mistakes they’ve made,” Iker said, who referred to the union’s legal battle with the province over class size and composition and “the government’s chaotic lockout.”

The earliest a full-scale strike could begin is Monday and with no strike notice issued as of Wednesday it appeared the strike start could shift to next Tuesday or later.

A full strike would close elementary and middle schools – parents will be advised to make child care arrangements if necessary – while secondary schools would be open only to conduct exams for Grade 10 to 12 students.

The lack of $50-a-day strike pay – the BCTF’s strike fund was expected to be exhausted at the end of this week – was apparently a non-issue for most teachers.

Sooke Teachers Association president Ian Johnston said the strike vote was held mainly to increase pressure on the government.

“It’s more the signal it sends to government; how strong is our resolve. That’s really what it’s all about,” he said.

The Labour Relations Board was to hear arguments Wednesday on the province’s application to declare exams and final grades an essential service in the event of a full strike.

The province has also pledged to end its partial lockout of teachers at the end of the school year to enable summer school operations.

The government has saved $12 million in salaries in each week of the teachers’ rotating strike, plus nearly $5 million more by cutting wage 10 per cent based on lockout-retricted teaching hours.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the result was not unexpected.

“While the BCTF leadership received the mandate they sought, no one should interpret this as any kind of enthusiasm on the part of teachers to shut down schools,” he said.

He said teachers, parents and students would all rather finish the school year on a positive note, adding it took just five days of hard bargaining to secure a new contract for school support staff.

The province has offered teachers a $1,200 signing bonus if teachers accept its proposal of 7.25 per cent in wage increases over six years by June 30.

The BCTF’s latest proposal is for increases totaling 9.75 per cent over four years, plus cost-of-living adjustments in each year tied to inflation.

The two sides have differing estimates of the compounded grand total of the union’s wage demand – the BCTF estimates it at 12.75 per cent over four years, while BCPSEA pegs it at 14.7 per cent and says other non-wage compensation costs will further increase the bill, perhaps beyond 19 per cent.

“The BCTF leadership needs to come to the table with realistic expectations and a willingness to engage in meaningful bargaining,” Fassbender said. “Teachers deserve a raise but their total compensation demands are about four times more than other recent settlements.”

Just Posted

Summerland cannabis shop receives approval in principle

Inspection now required before Green Gaia may sell cannabis

Second-quarter police report shows assault, theft on the rise in Vernon

Through the first half of 2019, assault was up 61 per cent from the same period last year

Paddleboard festival coming soon to Kalamalka Lake

Wildfire smoke got in the way of last year’s event, but conditions look better this summer

Musicians ‘Singing Under the Stars’ at Vernon nature centre

Taylor Soloy, Cole Blakely and Karim Ghossein will perform at the Glasslands theatre on Aug. 22

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Good morning bats! Salmon Arm office receives surprise visit by winged critters

Pair of bats found huddled together on wall in the sun outside downtown office

Retrieved body from Okanagan Lake identified as missing kayaker

Zygmunt Janiewicz had been missing since May and was recovered Aug. 10

Most Read