Teacher across BC have voted in favour of a strike, if negotiations don’t result in a contract by June 30.
Because of the summer holiday, strike action wouldn’t take place until September at the earliest, said Queen Charlotte District Teachers’ Association president Duncan White, and teachers are hoping a strike won’t be necessary.
“The aim is not to have a strike,” he said.
However, teachers are insulted by the employer’s latest offer on the biggest issue, a salary increase. The employer initially offered a raise of 6.5-percent over the next four years, which Mr. White called “a poke in the eye”.
The employer – the BC Public Schools Employers’ Association – is now offering 8-percent over four years.
Teachers want a 24-percent increase over the next three years. Mr. White said teachers in BC make about 20-percent less than their counterparts in Ontario and Alberta, although it’s difficult to compare salaries because every district in BC has a different salary grid.
Starting teachers in some urban areas make less than what the province pays its deputy sheriffs, Mr. White said – a job which requires grade 12 plus a 10-week training course, compared to five years at university for a teaching job. The government is currently advertising for deputy sheriffs at a salary of $39,000 to $44,000, according to the BC Teachers’ Federation.
“Where’s the respect for the teachers, for the job they do?” Mr. White asked. “That’s where we’re coming from.”
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