THOMPSON-OKANAGAN — More than 28,000 B.C. teachers voted in support of moving to a full strike, a move that could come as early as next week.
In total more than 33,000 teachers took part in the vote Monday and Tuesday, with 86 per cent voting in support of stage three action.
“Thank you for standing up strong, in unity,” B.C. Teacher’s Federation President Jim Iker said Tuesday night. “It’s a very strong message to Premier Christy Clark and her government.”
Iker says they have not yet decided on a date to move to full strike and will continue rotating strikes this week.
“If we make a decision to escalate we will provide three days notice,” Iker says. “It’s a small and important window to reach a settlement. We’re ready to make moves and get down to hard bargaining.”
A total of 72 hours notice, three working days, is necessary before teachers can move to a full strike. A full strike could begin as early as Monday, June 16 if the union puts forth intentions first thing Wednesday morning.
“We have the will, but does government?” he says. “We want to be able to get down to it and get a deal in time to avert any movement to another stage of action. We want a deal by the end of June.”
Teachers originally voted to move into the early phases of job action, restricted communication with administration and then rotating strikes, back in March. In total 89 per cent of the more than 29,000 teachers that cast ballots voted in favour of the first two stages.
The last week of April saw teachers begin the first phase of job action, which included the restriction of administrative work and supervisory roles for things such as recess. A month later rotating strikes were announced with each district staging a full withdrawal of service for one day each week.
The B.C. Teachers Federation and the provincial government have been at odds over several items during contract negotiations, from the length of the term to class size and composition.
Rotating strikes this week will see teachers in school districts 22 and 67 (Vernon and Okanagan Skaha) hit the picket lines Wednesday, June 11, while teachers in districts 23 and 83 (Central and North Okanagan) will withdraw services on Thursday. Teachers in Kamloops-Thompson (SD73) will strike on Friday, June 13.
The government has applied to have the marking of exams and completion of report cards for secondary students considered an essential service.
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