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Mission teachers take part in BCTF's day of action

Mission teachers took part in the BCTF's day of action today (Monday).

According to Mission Teachers' Union vice-president Mark Bradshaw, local educators gathered during their lunch hour to watch a video of Susan Lambert, BCTF president, to the members, followed by an update on "the situation as it is today."

"Through mediation we're hoping real negotiations will start to go on," he said.

The job action also involved teachers arriving at school five minutes before the morning bell and leaving five minutes after the closing bell. This is in response to the government's announcement late last week that it would introduce legislation this week to impose a settlement on teachers. No classes were disrupted.

Teachers will be voting Tuesday and Wednesday whether to increase job action, and Bradshaw expected results by Wednesday night.

B.C. Education Minister George Abbott announced Thursday that he intends to introduce legislation this week to end the dispute with public school teachers.

The decision comes labour ministry official Trevor Hughes reported that a negotiated settlement between the BCTF and the government's bargaining agent, the BCPSEA, would be unlikely.

B.C. Liberal house leader Rich Coleman said the legislation could be presented as early as mid-week, but the debate on the provincial budget would take precedence until next Thursday unless there is an emergency situation.

Abbott said legislative options are being prepared that would reflect the government's net-zero mandate of no wage increases for public sector employees.

"We have three-quarters of public employees, with 100-plus contracts negotiated with the net zero mandate," Abbott said. "We have to proceed on that basis."

The BCTF had proposed a three-year contract that would see teachers given a 15 per cent increase over that span. BCTF estimates the contract will cost an extra $300 million per year; however, BCPSEA pegs that number at upwards of $500 million in the first year alone.

Teachers across the province have been doing essential service only since September, refusing to meet with school administration, supervise students during breaks or complete report cards. Teachers have been without a contract since June 2011.

- with files from Tom Fletcher

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