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Teachers' job action starts Wednesday

Students won’t feel much strain from the first phase of the teachers’ job action, but it won’t be painless for all.

Moyra Baxter, chair of the Central Okanagan School Board, said that an emergency meeting was held to address the shortfall created by the teachers’ job action.

It’s expected that school district senior staff —principals, vice- principals, and administrators—will bear the brunt of administrative services that teachers are withdrawing.

“It will have the most effect on supervision before and after school because teachers have said they won’t do it anymore,” Baxter said.

“In 2011 to 2012, it went on for seven months and we had people who had to drive from the school board office  to a school for supervision.”

The “logistical nightmare” that creates could prompt some minor change at the school level, such as pushing recess to the end of the day to save the senior staff the hassle of driving across the city for a short supervisory stint.

“These people are really busy anyway,” said Baxter. Administrative staff are at bare minimum anyway. Now they have to catch up and do all sorts of things…it’s not something we’re looking forward to.”

Baxter pointed out, that teachers have a problem with the provincial government, not those who will suffer from the job action, and the current conditions are unfair.

The BC Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker pointed out that the lack of action from the provincial government on contract demands is what’s really unfair.

On April 17, he issued notice of a job action that’s to start Wednesday.

“Job action, even low-level action, is always a last resort because teachers care deeply about our schools and our students,” Iker said.

“That is why teachers are asking for smaller classes, more one-on-one time for our students, extra help for those who need it, and more specialist teachers to enhance every student’s educational experience.”

Iker also said that any escalation of Stage 1 to Stage 2, which would mean rotating strikes, will depend entirely on progress at the negotiating table. “Teachers expect the government to abandon the ill-conceived 10-year scheme, make improvements to working and learning conditions like class size, class composition, and specialist staffing levels as well as offer a fair and reasonable salary increase. Our hope is for a negotiated deal at the bargaining table and not escalating job action.”

Job action details

During Stage 1 job action teachers will not:

  • Undertake any mandated supervision of students outside of regularly scheduled classes, except as set out by an essential services order
  • Attend any meetings with management other than meetings of the worksite Joint Health and Safety Committee
  • Provide principals or administrators with any routine printed, written, or electronic communication
  • Receive any printed, written, or electronic communication from an administrator
  • Be at a worksite prior to one hour before commencement of instructional time and one hour after the end of instructional time, other than for pre-arranged voluntary activities.
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