The teachers of B.C. have voted overwhelmingly to support strike action to back their bargaining goals of improved learning conditions for students, restored bargaining rights,
and a fair salary increase.
A total of 88.4% of British Columbia teachers voted “yes” in a
province- wide strike vote. In all, 31,740 teachers cast a ballot, of whom 27,990 voted
yes. About 80% of teachers in schools and teachers on call participated. The
previous contract, imposed through legislation, expired in June 2004.
“With this vote, our members have taken a courageous stand for
public education. I’m so very proud of them,” said Jinny Sims, president of the B.C.
Teachers’ Federation. “And we’re gratified that such a large number of
Sims said the vote demonstrates the tremendous unity amongst
teachers, and their resolute commitment to achieving improvements for their students and
“We know from experience that classroom conditions have only
improved when teachers have taken a stand,” Sims said. “Our students have lost too much
over the last four years for teachers to stand by and allow conditions to
Sims announced that teachers will serve strike notice today, and
job action is set to begin next Tuesday, September 27, 2005. The first phase, a
two-week period, is designed to place pressure on the employer but maintain
regular classroom instruction and voluntary extra-curricular activities.
If no progress is made in discussions with government and the
employer, the second phase – October 11-20, 2005 – would see rotating strikes in school
districts around B.C.
In the unfortunate event that the government and the employer
remain inflexible in their positions, a full-scale withdrawal of all services would
commence October 24, 2005.
“Teachers have been very patient in the face of constant
interference by this provincial government,” Sims said. “At the bargaining table the
employers’ position, mandated by government, has been completely inflexible –
no improvements, no rights, and no money.”
Sims emphasized that teachers will continue to seek solutions in
the talks set up last week at the request of Labour Minister Mike de Jong.
“We are prepared to work 24-7 to find solutions that address the
needs of our students, our teachers and our profession,” Sims said. “Today teachers
have clearly stated their determination to achieve improved learning and
working conditions. We hope our message will be heard.”