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BC teachers could issue 72-hour strike notice as early as Tuesday

Jim Iker, president of the BCTF

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Still no movement at the bargaining table between teachers and the province, but the union could be in a position to issue 72-hour strike notice as early as Tuesday.

The BC Teachers’ Federation will be sitting down with Labour Relations Tuesday to figure out what services are essential in the first two stages of the three point strike plan.

BCTF President Jim Iker promises the first phase won’t affect students.

“Stage one is what we would call our lower level stage which is not affecting the instruction of our students in any way. We will still be in our classrooms teaching. The idea is to put more pressure on administration. Administrators would be doing the supervision rather than the teachers, and we wouldn’t be in meetings with administrators. But we would still be doing our report cards, communicating with parents, voluntary activities aren’t affected,” says Iker.

However, if the two sides remain far apart on issues such as class size, more specialist teachers for students in need and a ten-year agreement, Iker warns stage two could be initiated. “If we need, depending on the way bargaining is going and if the bargaining table needs more pressure, then stage two would see the rotating strikes occurring at some point in time in the future.”

The Labour Relations Board will appoint a mediator so the BCTF and BC Public School Employers Association can figure out what teacher services are essential. If the two sides can’t agree, the board itself will make a designation. Iker says when strike notice is issued depends on how long this process takes, and where the union is at with provincial negotiations.

As for the recent quick resolution in the trucker’s strike, Iker says it shows when there’s a will of government to get a negotiated deal there are extra resources available. “We’re hoping the same thing will happen at our bargaining table, that we can get a deal without having to escalate into job action.”

Teachers are hopeful an agreement can be reached by the end of this school year according to Iker.