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B.C. teachers dispute escalates as government threatens lockout

May 22, 2014 - 12:35 PM

VANCOUVER - The contract dispute between B.C.'s teachers and the provincial government has intensified with the teachers' union warning of significant disruptions as the government threatens a lockout.

The union says many exams, including those for Grade 10 and 11 students, won't be marked, extracurricular activities will be cancelled and teachers won't be prepared for summer school if the government follows through with its threat.

The BC Public School Employers Association informed the union of a 10 per cent pay cut and a planned lockout in a letter to BC Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker, saying union wage demands far surpassed other public sector agreements recently reached.

The teachers' union already planned to begin rotating, one-day strikes beginning next week to back demands that include higher wages.

Iker says the union has tried to minimize the impact on students, but the latest government move shows that it doesn't care.

The province's education minister has suggested the lockout won't affect teachers' ability to participate in extra curricular activities and he says school administrators and parents can work to ensure graduation ceremonies go on as planned.



VANCOUVER - The group representing B.C.'s 60 public-school boards at the bargaining table with teachers says promised wage cuts will take effect Monday, the same day rotating strikes are set to begin around the province.

The BC Public School Employers' Association says in a letter to the teachers' union that a five-per-cent wage reduction will jump to 10-per-cent on the first day the teachers' walkout affects any schools.

It also says the employer will lock out secondary school teachers June 25 and 26 and all teachers June 27.

The BC Teachers' Federation has tweeted that it will respond to the developments on Thursday morning.

Union members voted 89 per cent in favour of striking in March, and teachers stopped supervising students outside the classroom or communicating in writing to administrators during the first phase of job action.

Both sides remain firmly divided over wages, class size, the composition of those classes and the length of the contract term.

"To date BCTF has given no indication it will be making a significant change in its position which would be expected in collective bargaining and is very disappointing," writes Michael Marchbank, the association's public administrator.

"BCPSEA wants to achieve a negotiated settlement before the end of this school year in order to provide stability for students, parents and teachers."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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