Supervision the first target area for valley teachers in provincial job action

Cowichan District Teachers
Cowichan District Teachers' Association president Naomi Nilsson.
— image credit: Don Bodger/file

Cowichan School District 79 teachers are joining their provincial brethren in the first stage of job action this week.

"It's purely administrative,'' said Cowichan District Teachers' Association president Naomi Nilsson. "It's meant to put some pressure onto the administration.''

The first phase of a three-stage strike plan goes into effect Wednesday after the B.C. Teachers' Federation served 72-hour notice following rejection of the latest offer from the provincial government's school district bargaining agency.

Nilsson said teachers will still be doing report cards and communicating with parents and extra-curricular activities won't be affected.

"I don't know if parents will notice much, other than the teachers won't be in supervision,'' she said.

Nilsson said the strike plan is quite similar to Phase 1 in 2011-12. There's no timeline for escalation of strike action.

The CDTA planned to meet with local trustee Mike McKay while he's in town to address local concerns.

If the BCTF plan gets to Phase 2, it will involve rotating one-day walkouts around the province. A full-scale strike in Phase 3 would require a second vote by members to authorize.

Union members recently voted 89% to endorse the three-stage strike plan.

The government continues to push for a 10-year deal, but Nilsson said that's unrealistic when the offer doesn't even keep up with the cost of living.

Teachers aren't interested in a long-term deal under those conditions.

"It honestly depends what they bring to the table,'' Nilsson said.

"I think we would even sign a six- (year-deal) if it had a cost of living. Class size and composition is definitely the major issue for our teachers — especially in the valley here.''

Nilsson indicated it's unfortunate kids are stuck in the middle, but valley teachers are on the same page.

"They are tired,'' said Nilsson. "Come on (premier) Christy (Clark). They just want to teach and they just want to teach well and they can't do that right now because of the underfunding and it really affects morale.''

Nilsson said the funding structure doesn't work and it's time the government realized it. It's been this way basically since Clark assumed office as education minister in 2001, Nilsson said.


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