Local schools will be closed Monday due to a one-day teachers’ strike.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation announced the action Tuesday after they rejected an offer of a $1,200 signing bonus for an agreement by the end of the school year.
The strikes will be staged at one group of school districts in each of the first four days next week, with teachers returning to work across the province May 30.
According to Mission Teachers’ Union president Mark Bradshaw, teachers are resolute in their actions during the first and second parts of a three-phase job action strategy.
He added that if the third phase, a province-wide walkout, was proposed, teachers will vote again.
Bradshaw said the government’s offer of a $1,200 signing bonus works out to only $200 a year over a six-year proposed agreement.
“I don’t think that’s a pot sweetener,” he said.
Teachers want a contract that looks at class size and composition, Bradshaw continued, and a “reasonable wage offer.”
“There are too many special needs kids [in each classroom] for any one teacher to handle,” he said, mentioning one class in Mission has seven special needs students. It is not uncommon for there to be four or five, he added.
Parents rallied in support of teachers in downtown Mission Wednesday afternoon in front Abbotsford-Mission MLA Simon Gibson’s constituency office, which he shares with Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton.
“Parents want to bring light to the situation,” said Scott Susin, a Mission teacher and parent that helped organize the event. “Parents want better education for their kids.”
Over the past 12 years, there have been school closures throughout B.C., an increase in class sizes, and cuts to programs, said Susin. “There are less options for our children.”
He’s encouraging parents to learn about what goes on in their children’s classroom and put pressure on the provincial government to make education a priority.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the signing bonus and reducing the contract term from 10 years to six were significant efforts to move toward a settlement.
“Unfortunately the announcement today says that the BCTF feels that disrupting classrooms, affecting children and their families is going to help to reach a settlement,” Fassbender said.
The BCTF began work-to-rule action in April, refusing supervision outside classrooms and communication with school management.
– with files from Tom Fletcher and Carol Aun