Teachers’ strike not likely next week

In districts, such as Mission, where spring break does not begin next week, teachers have said they won't strike on the first three days.

by Tom Fletcher and Vikki Hopes

Although the Mission school district is among those across B.C. whose teachers could exercise their option for a one-day strike next week, that is not likely to happen.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has promised it will not strike for the first three days of next week, and Education Minister George Abbott said he hopes to have government legislation imposing a cooling-off period in place by Thursday, March 15.

“It appears that schools will be open on Monday and that’s a wonderful thing,” Abbott said Thursday. “And barring some change of mind (by the BCTF), they will also be open on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Once the legislation is in place, it will be illegal for teachers to conduct any further strikes until Aug. 31.

If they do, the BCTF would be subject to a fine of $1.3 million a day, as well as $2,500 a day for each BCTF officer who orders strike action, and $475 a day for any teacher who strikes in defiance of the legislation.

The Abbotsford school district is not impacted by any job action that might occur next week. It is among more than half of the districts across the province that begin their two-week spring break on Monday.

About 1,000 teachers across Abbotsford took part in the three-day province-wide strike at the beginning of this week, but returned to the classrooms on Thursday and Friday.

Other Lower Mainland districts that are in school next week include Surrey, Delta and New Westminster.

NDP members continued Thursday to speak against Bill 22, which imposes the six-month cooling-off period and penalties for strike action.

The B.C. Legislature begins its own one-week spring break on March 15.