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Valley teachers in support of strong strike position

Possible teacher job action looms over Cowichan but teachers say any early job action will not affect classrooms. - Andrew Leong/file
Possible teacher job action looms over Cowichan but teachers say any early job action will not affect classrooms.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Cowichan and Lake Cowichan teachers have joined with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation membership in delivering a strong strike mandate.

Public school teachers voted 89% in favour of strike action in three stages following voting conducted during three days last week. The BCTF does not provide a breakdown of the vote tally for each local.

“As for what teachers are thinking in Cowichan, I can say that they are aware that we are in the same predicament as we have been for the past 12 years,’’ noted Naomi Nilsson, president of the Cowichan District Teachers’ Association.

“We have the same government in power that stripped our collective agreements of class size and composition language.

“We are hopeful that the overwhelmingly positive strike vote will be enough to ensure BCPSEA (B.C. Public School Employers’ Association) secures a deal with us provincially. A strike vote is not something taken lightly, nor is engaging in any sort of job action. We hope this is resolved as soon as possible.’’

“The teachers of the Lake Cowichan local support our BCTF bargaining team and have confidence in them,’’ added Chris Rolls, president of the Lake Cowichan Teachers’ Association.

“Lake teachers clearly want a negotiated settlement rather than a legislated response from government, especially given the two B.C. Court rulings that class size and composition should not have been stripped from our collective agreements.’’

BCTF president Jim Iker indicated there is no set schedule on when work-to-rule action would begin.

“It will depend entirely on what is happening at the negotiating table and whether or not the government and the employers’ association are prepared to be fair and reasonable,’’ he said after vote results were made public Thursday evening.

More than 29,000 teachers voted, with 26,000 saying ‘yes’ to the strike option that can be activated on 72 hours’ notice within 90 days.

Phase one of the strike plan would be refusing meetings or communication with administrators and working to rule on hours, except for pre-arranged voluntary activities.

Phase two is rotating one-day walkouts in districts around the province. Phase three, a full-scale strike, would require a second vote by members to authorize.

— with a file from Tom Fletcher

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