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Nanaimo teachers hold strike vote next week
Teachers in B.C. will be taking a strike vote next week to back up demands made during ongoing contract negotiations with the provincial government.
The vote will begin this Tuesday (March 4) and will run until Thursday, with results being made public that evening. However, even if there is a mandate to strike, job action would come in stages and would not initially include school closures or limits on teachers' duties.
Shannon Iverson, first vice-president for the teachers' union in Nanaimo, said she couldn't comment on union strategies but said the strike vote is not meant to cause hardship for families.
“I will tell you that the plan is to make sure that we don't interrupt students and parents,” said Iverson. “The job action is meant to put pressure at the bargaining table, the strike vote is meant to do that. Extracurriculars will not be disrupted, report cards will not be disrupted, communications with parents will not be disrupted.”
Any further action would be dependent on how negotiations at the bargaining table progress, she said, adding that local unions will be taking direction from decisions made by the B.C. Teachers' Federation union executive committee.
Despite the fact that the vote hasn't occurred yet and job action will be limited at the outset, Nanaimo school district does have plans in place should there be an escalation.
“It's quite premature to speculate on what might happen but one of the things we do whenever something like this comes up is we'll monitor the situation and we'll definitely be informing parents as soon as there's anything concrete that they need to know about,” said Donna Reimer, school district spokeswoman.
The dispute stems back to 2002 when class size and composition negotiating rights were stripped from teachers' contracts. Despite a ruling earlier this month from Judge Susan Griffin that sided with the teachers' arguments, the government is appealing the decision – something the provincial teachers' federation is not happy about.
The government was granted a stay by the B.C. Court of Appeal yesterday, citing that re-introducing class size and composition would affect current school budgets with the rehiring of teachers, amongst other things.
The teachers and the province are set to resume talks the same day as the strike vote begins. Following the vote, the union will have 90 days to initiate job action.