Phase One of teachers’ job action set to begin

Greater Trail teachers begin Phase One of their job action on Wednesday.

It won’t be business as usual for elementary or high school students in Greater Trail after teachers begin work-to-rule action Wednesday, according to School District 20’s (SD20) superintendent.

Job action follows the B.C. Teachers’ Federation(BCTF) serving a 72-hour strike notice to school districts across the province late Thursday after rejecting a long-term contract offer from the bargaining arm for the boards of education.

Greg Luterbach emailed an advisory letter to SD20 parents Saturday evening outlining how the teachers’ first stage of strike action will affect school operations and students’ schedules.

“Teachers will not be performing some of their regular duties,” explained Luterbach. “During this phase of strike action by teachers, schools throughout the district will remain open and instruction will continue.”

Phase One of the job action has teachers refusing to supervise students outside the classroom except as an essential service order, arriving no more than one hour before class and leaving one hour after school hours, refusing all meetings except those related to work site occupational health and safety, and refusing to provide or receive written or electronic communication from school managers.

“These and other service reductions will result in changes to school routines and events,” said Luterbach. “Principals and other administrative staff will be performing some of the duties withdrawn by the teachers and will be less available than usual.”

The BCTF stated teachers will continue to teach, write report cards, communicate with parents and participate in extracurricular activities during this initial stage, he noted.

Strike action comes after 15 months of negotiations between the B.C. teachers and the British Columbia Public School Employers Association, said Luterbach, adding that although negotiations are ongoing, significant issues remain unresolved.

The BCTF describes Phase Two of job action as rotating strikes, meaning a one-day-a-week closure of schools in districts around the province, and ultimately a full scale, province-wide withdrawal of duties during Phase Three.

Before strike action moves into rotating withdrawal of service, the BC Labour Relations Board has ruled that the teacher’s union must give two working days notice, according to Luterbach.

Before they go beyond a one-day-per-week withdrawal of all services, three working days notice must be given, he added.

More than 29,000 teachers voted, with 26,000 (89 per cent) saying “yes” to a three-stage strike plan in March, after saying “no” to a 10-year agreement with wage increases totalling 6.5 per cent over the first six years, with further pay increases to be negotiated in the final four years.

For further information and updates, visit sd20.bc.ca