Illegal strike costly, teachers to find

  • Oct. 28, 2005 5:00 p.m.

Teachers on the islands have had a big bite taken out of their Oct. 31 paycheques as a result of their illegal 10-day strike.
Duncan White, president of the Queen Charlotte District Teachers Association, asked the school board Tuesday night (Oct. 25) to consider spreading the pay deduction over a longer period of time. But secretary-treasurer Andrea DeBucy told trustees that the Ministry of Education had directed boards to not to do so. As well, the Ministry is taking back all the money saved over the two-week job action.
“We will not have that money,” Ms DeBucy said. “We cannot afford to spread that over because we will not have that money.”
She said it would also be unfair to local CUPE staff members, who took a big hit on their paycheques for observing the teachers’ picket lines and staying off the job.
The islands school district saved about $150,000 in teacher wages and $50,000 in CUPE support staff wages during the strike, she said – numbers which she was forced to report to the ministry by the end of the day Tuesday. The district also saved $30,000 to $40,000 in benefit costs, she said.
Mr. White said Education Minister Shirley Bond subsequently clarified the ministry position on the wage clawback, saying individual school boards could deduct the wages any way they wanted. Mr. White said spreading out the deduction is a goodwill gesture which can help employer-employee relations in situations like this.
But by the time Ms Bond made her statement, the local district office had already processed the Oct. 31 paycheques and it was too late to make other arrangements, even if the board had been willing to consider them.
At the Tuesday night school board meeting, Mr. White thanked trustees and administrators on behalf of the teachers for their kindness and thoughtfulness during the strike.
A couple of administrators, called upon to leave their offices and do playground and other supervision during the early days of the job action, said they had enjoyed the opportunity.
Ms DeBucy said she learned a lot working in the school and Haida Education Director Vonnie Hutchingson said she welcomed the chance to interact directly with the students, and was pleased by the good behaviour she saw on the playground at Sk’aadgaa Naay.