Local reaction: Teachers’strike vote passes

Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union president comments

The BC Teachers’ Federation has voted in favour of escalated strike action by a margin of 86 per cent. A full fledged strike could begin as soon as Monday, June 16.

The results of the strike vote by local teachers is not to be made public, Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union President Andy Davidoff says – that’s because of a “protocol,” but he did divulge on June 11 that the local response was “resounding.”

Education Minister Peter Fassbender, whose comments were obtained from the ministry website, said,

“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 local teachers’ union spokesperson feels there is more behind the negotiations than what’s currently on the table.

“I’m just waiting for more information on this, but we’re starting to understand that the government’s motivation is not so much to get a deal with us, but to make the lawsuit go away.”

Davidoff refers to a legal action launched against the government by teachers over issues including class sizes.

A court had ruled back in January, awarding $2 million plus costs as part of a judgment in favour of the BCTF. The government has since appealed that judgement. But a far greater amount, yet to be determined, could yet be awarded to the teachers.

Davidoff says the two sides are only “inches apart” on the issue of salary.