Teachers may begin full-scale strike after losing LRB decision on 10 per cent pay cut

Teachers to vote on Monday and Tuesday

By Tracy Sherlock, Postmedia News June 4, 2014 8:28 PM

Teachers across B.C. could embark on a full-scale strike within the next two weeks after a vote next Monday and Tuesday, their leader said Wednesday after the Labour Relations Board ruled a 10-per-cent pay cut would stand.

“Even before the LRB ruling, the BCTF executive decided last night that it’s time to apply the maximum pressure,” said Jim Iker, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. “The vote itself will apply pressure to both sides. There is still time for the government to act to prevent a full strike.”

The Labour Relations Board on Wednesday dismissed the B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s application to declare the employer’s lockout and 10-per-cent wage cut illegal.

“ … Subject to the designation of essential services, the Employer is free to engage in lockout activities including imposing new terms of employment in order to pressure the Union into reaching a new collective agreement,” LRB vice-chairman Richard Longpre wrote in his decision.

“I do not accept the suggestion that once a designation has been issued by the Board and regardless of the scope of that designation, the parties must comply with the terms and conditions of the collective agreement until such time as either party applies to the Board to amend the order.”

The teachers could still refer the measures to arbitration and all decisions of the LRB can be appealed within 15 days.

Teachers have been holding rotating strikes since May 26, with several school districts closed each day. The partial lockout restricts teachers from working during recess or lunch hours, or from arriving at school any earlier than 45 minutes before classes start, or staying 45 minutes after they end, and includes the pay cut.

At issue are wages, class size, class composition and the number of specialist teachers. The employer is offering a 7.3-per-cent wage increase over six years. Teachers on Tuesday reduced their ask by one per cent, now calling for 12.75 over four years. The BCTF also says it moved on several other issues on Tuesday, including benefits, pay for teachers on call and preparation time.


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