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Teachers vote for strike

Update June 11

In response to the BC Teachers’ Federation overwhelming strike vote, Education Minister Peter Fassbender has released the following statement:

"The vote results are 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.

"I know teachers would prefer to be in their classrooms and I know that students and parents would rather finish this school year on a positive note. It is now up to the BCTF leadership to decide if they are going to move to a full walkout. 

"The earliest a full strike could begin is next Monday - five days from now. It took five days of hard bargaining to get a framework agreement with school support staff. They did not need to strike to get a fair deal and neither do teachers.

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

"BCPSEA has a fair wage offer on the table, one that's in line with recent agreements covering nearly 150,000 public sector workers - including 34,000 school support workers. The offer also includes a special $1,200 signing bonus if we reach agreement before June 30th.

"My message to the BCTF is: let's stay at the table and get to an agreement by June 30th, so we can head into the summer with the assurance that our education system is on a path to long-term stability and focused on student outcomes."


Original story June 10

British Columbia's teachers' union has voted 86 per cent in favour of moving to a full-scale strike with just weeks left in the school year.

BC Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker announced the results late Tuesday night, saying the union will make a decision on escalating job action after further discussions.

The union must now give three days' notice before teachers walk off the job, meaning a notice issued early Wednesday could result in a strike on Monday.

Premier Christy Clark has said the government still wants to see a settlement.

Teachers have been without a contract since June 2013, and the vote is the latest development in the dispute that has seen the union and government divided over issues of wages and classroom conditions.

The government has saved $12 million each week in salaries during the teachers' current but limited job action, plus nearly $5 million more by chopping wages.

The Canadian Press

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