Teachers take to streets

Parents of school children know teachers haven't reported to work for the past two days as they take part in province-wide job action.

Cameron Orr and Tom Fletcher

Black Press


As anyone with school-age children knows by now, teachers were not reporting to work for the past two days as they take part in province-wide job action.

The B.C. Teachers’ Association served strike notice after teachers across the province endorsed the option in a province-wide vote.

The union is required to give two school days’ notice before being in a legal strike position, under a Labour Relations Board ruling on essential services that allows for up to three consecutive days of full strike action.

Education Minister George Abbott said Thursday that schools will be open, and parents may send children to school if they do not have other care arrangements. They will be supervised and safe, but likely confined to group activities in gyms, Abbott said.

A letter sent to parents in the Bulkley Valley from superintendent Chris van der Mark encouraged parents to find alternate arrangements for students for those three days. While he notes administration and CUPE staff will be at schools, effective supervision will be challenging with the amount of people on hand.

The LRB ruling prohibits picket lines, allowing unionized support staff to go to work. Administrators will supervise students, but normal instruction will not take place.

The B.C. government began debate last Thursday on legislation that would extend the current teacher pay and benefits for another six months, while a mediator works with the BCTF and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association in an effort to find common ground on class sizes, special needs support and other issues.

Nearly 28,000 BCTF members voted yes to the strike option out of the 32,209 who voted last week.

Bulkley Valley Teachers Union President Karin Bachman said teachers’ are concerned over this latest bill to get them to work.

“Our concern is the egregiousness of Bill 22,” said Bachman.

Those concerns include class size and composition issues, as well as possible precedents for future job actions.

“It sets a new low for public sector bargaining and it will become the new reality if we don’t stand up against it,” she said.

Locally she said there is little concern over the size of classes but class composition is something local teachers face.

“The class sizes are not egregious here like they are in other places in the province but definitely we have class composition concerns and we do need more time for learner support teachers,” she said.

She said there is less funding available today for kids at risk — those who have fallen behind their classmates.

As teachers strike this week, buses are not running but StrongStart centres remain open.

van der Mark emphasized this labour dispute is between teachers and the province and at a local level he said they’ve been fortunate to have a great working relationship to have things running as normal as possible.

“We’re hoping that despite this three day interruption that that will continue,” he said.

Updates from the school district can be found online at sd54.bc.ca.


Just Posted

CN train derailment cleared between Terrace and Prince Rupert

The CN mainline is now open, following a train derailment mid-way between… Continue reading

President and CEO leaving Coast Mountain College

Burt will say goodbye to CMNT come September

UPDATE: Downed power pole shuts down Petro-Canada

Business operator says Waste Management was responsible for the incident

Fire burns down barn and workshop near Tyhee Lake

Owner Martin Hennig estimates around $200,000 in uninsured losses after the buildings burned down.

Portugese national concertmaster headlines classical music festival

Spirit of the North festival will feature internationally-renowned musicians to local kids

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Most Read