At an impasse with the B.C. government at the bargaining table, teachers in B.C. will begin rotating strikes, with Nanaimo-Ladysmith district teachers set to picket today (Tuesday, May 27).
Schools will be open, but there won’t be instruction and buses won’t run, Dave Hutchinson, school district CEO and superintendent, said in a letter to parents. He asked parents to keep children home for safety reasons. School will resume as usual on Wednesday (May 28).
Mike Ball, president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said the move from the first stage of job action, which included limited supervision and no contact with administration, is due to a combination of factors.
“The lack of progress at the table has triggered the escalation to Phase 2 but because their wage offer is significantly lower than our proposal and they’re not dealing with class size and composition at all, that has caused a lack of progress, which has triggered the escalation,” Ball said.
Peter Fassbender, B.C. Minister of Education, said the province has made “significant” concessions to move toward a settlement, reducing contract length from 10 to six years and offering a $1,200 signing bonus.
Teachers made concessions with their last proposal, according to Ball. He said teachers reduced their request for cost of living allowance and wage increase, while offering a four-year deal with the province.
“It was a significant move from our last proposal,” Ball said. “It’s just a case of whether the government can move also.”
Rotating strikes will occur at B.C. school districts until Thursday (May 29), and any further action will depend on progress at the negotiating table, said Ball.
The third stage, a province-wide strike, would require another teachers’ union vote and there would have to be two working days’ notice to employers.
The school district recommends checking its website, at www.sd68.bc.ca, its Facebook page and Twitter feed (@sd68bc) for up-to-date information.
In the Cowichan Valley (School District 79), teachers will be striking Thursday, May 29, and buses will not be running.
Ladysmith, Parks and Recreation is offering a kids camp today (Tuesday, May 28) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Frank Jameson Community Centre.
A day of supervised games, sports, swimming, arts and crafts and movies has been planned for children aged five to 12. It costs $30 for the day and $15 for siblings. For more information, call 250-245-6424 or visit www.ladysmith.ca.
Karl Yu and Lindsay Chung— with files from Tom Fletcher