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Teachers serve strike notice; Kelowna students to strike as well

The results of a provincewide strike vote gave the BC Teachers' Federation a mandate to issue a strike notice Thursday morning.

Teachers voted 87 per cent in favour of the strike.

The three-day strike will begin Monday.

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A group of Rutland Senior Secondary students will go on strike Friday after deciding the students affected by B.C. teachers' ongoing contract negotiations should be able to express their views.

Mariah Johnson said she believes teachers need the student body's full support in their fight for fair pay and better working conditions and, after speaking with her teachers about the issue, has decided the students can help.

"I've thought about it for a couple of weeks, but decided to do it on Monday," said Johnson.

Friend Catherine Aujla-Fieldt, 17, is one of those committed to joining her on the picket line on Rutland Road.

"I think that the teachers have a right to be on strike and to get what they deserve," she said.

Aujla-Fieldt has classes where students do not even have desks to sit in and believes the teachers are fighting to get better resources for her and her classmates.

"I guess we're just trying to show it affects us too," she said, when asked why she wants to forgo her first class and stand out in the cold.

Johnson made a video promoting the strike and posted it on Facebook mid-week and has permission to put posters up around the school. She said most of her information about the strike has come from the teachers themselves, though she also consulted online media sources as she developed her point of view. She feels teachers need to be compensated adequately for helping shape her future and that of her friends—and she's not alone on this point.

Students across the province are expected to walk out of class early on Friday. Johnson said her idea was separate and she doesn't want the half-hour demonstration she's planned to turn into an easy early weekend for her classmates.

Neither the Central Okanagan School District nor Central Okanagan Teachers' Association could be reached for comment on the matter due to a scheduled information meeting the district was holding for parents.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation executed a provincewide strike vote Wednesday, after learning a legal strike would be possible.

On Tuesday, the Labour Relations Board granted teachers the right to strike for three consecutive days and one day a week following, provided parents are given two days notice.

The government, meanwhile, is preparing legislation that will send them right back to work—though likely not in time to evade at least a couple of days of pickets.

The legislation will introduce a six-month cooling off period with a mediator to settle the dispute; but could take up to a week to pass.

Central Okanagan Superintendent of Schools Hugh Gloster was on local radio Thursday morning saying schools within his catchment would remain open, should the teachers walk out, to accommodate those who could not find child care.

Steep fines are expected to come with the legislation for those who engage in an illegal strike, with monetary implications for BCTF as an entity and individual teachers who participate in any illegal action.

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