After working a full school year without a contract, teachers are preparing to take action to resolve outstanding issues at the bargaining table. Members of the BCTF’s Representative Assembly voted Monday evening to conduct a province-wide strike vote between September 20 and 22, 2005, with the results to be reported to members and the public on September 23, 2005.
BCTF President Jinny Sims said teachers do not take job action lightly. “We would rather not have to do so, but we have been working under increasingly difficult classroom conditions for many months and our students deserve better,” Sims said.
Teachers have been bargaining for a return of class-size limits and other provisions that used to guarantee services and support to students, and a fair and reasonable salary increase. Since the government stripped these provisions from their collective agreement, more than 2,500 full-time teaching positions have been cut and learning conditions have deteriorated across the province.
“We have been very outspoken about the decline in the quality of educational services we are able to offer,” Sims said. “Too many students are not getting the support they need to be successful. Teachers have carried on as best we can, trying to fill the gaps and make do with less. But we all know that, ultimately, this trend can’t be allowed to continue.”
Sims emphasized that teachers are willing to work hard to reach a negotiated settlement. However, the employer has refused to discuss the very issues that are crucial to teachers, and has insisted that government would not provide the resources needed to make improvements for students.
“As a result, we are calling on the provincial government to meet with us,” Sims said. “We hope that with a new government and a new school year there is an opportunity for a fresh start and a new problem-solving approach.”
“Our students deserve stability in the school system, and teachers need the resources to meet their needs,” Sims said. “We appeal to the government to join us in seeking solutions to these long-standing issues.”