Teachers working, contemplating next move

  • Mar. 16, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Islands teachers were happy to be back in their classrooms this week, says Haida Gwaii Teachers Association president Evelyn von Almassy, but are contemplating their next move in the ongoing dispute with the provincial government. It was hard work being out on the “leaflet line” during last week’s three-day strike, she said. The weather was cold and teachers spent a lot of time explaining to the public what they don’t like about Bill 22, the legislation that will end job action for a six-month cooling off period. “They missed the students,” Ms von Almassy said. “It was very tiring on the line.” Three teachers from Haida Gwaii – Ms von Almassy, Tricia Jung and Warren McIntyre – are now off to Vancouver for the annual BC Teachers’ Federation meeting, which starts Saturday night and continues through the week. About 700 teachers from across BC will be attending, and decisions about the next step in the dispute will be made during the meeting. Some teachers in other districts have already stopped participating in extra-curricular activities like sports and field trips, she said, to protest the legislation. Teachers in this district have not yet decided whether that will happen here. There are a variety of possibilities, she said. The BCTF may decide on a province-wide withdrawal from extra-curricular activities, or may leave the decision up to teachers in each district, she said. Meanwhile North Coast MLA Gary Coons said he was surprised Monday when the Liberals announced they would be ending debate on Bill 22 and ensuring it becomes law by Thursday evening. Mr. Coons was one of the many NDP MLAs who spoke for half an hour opposing the legislation, and spoke again Monday in support of an NDP amendment that would have seen an independent mediator appointed to resolve the dispute. “Right now the Liberals are down in the polls and trying to look tough,” Mr. Coons said. “It’s just outrageous what they are doing to teachers… All of the stakeholders, all of them, want some sort of mediation.”