Teacher job action begins

Lake City Secondary School principal Gregg Gaylord (left) supervises students at the Williams Lake Campus as buses arrive following school Wednesday. - Greg Sabatino photo
Lake City Secondary School principal Gregg Gaylord (left) supervises students at the Williams Lake Campus as buses arrive following school Wednesday.
— image credit: Greg Sabatino photo

Some students in School District 27 may miss out on field trips this spring due to teacher job action that began this week.

“Teachers are not submitting paperwork to principals as part of stage one of job action,” explains Superintendent Mark Thiessen.

“Because of this, no new field trips that haven’t been approved already will be able to take place until this withdrawal of services has been lifted.”

If principals cannot receive and approve the necessary field trip applications from teachers, there would be no documentation in place for field trips to go ahead, Thiessen said.

“Unfortunately, this may mean that students will not be able to participate in field trips they have been looking forward to already,” Thiessen said. “Field trips that were approved prior to Wednesday, April 23 will still carry on if principals feel that the necessary supervision will be provided by teachers.”

Last Thursday the BC Teacher’s Federation served 72 hour notice of work to rule job action after rejecting a 10-year contract offer from the provincial bargaining agent.

Stage one of the job action includes the withdrawal of supervisory duties outside of class time, curtailing communication with school managers, and arriving no more than an hour before and leaving an hour after school ends.

Murray Helmer, Cariboo Chilcotin Teachers Association president said the main focus of the  job action is to put pressure on administrators, noting the CCTA negotiated coverage to ensure student safety with district staff.

“All worksites in Williams Lake will be supervised by administration ... three schools in 100 Mile House will still have some teachers providing supervision alongside administration.”

Helmer said teachers will not be exchanging paperwork with administration or attending meetings involving administration.

He said regular teaching continues to take place, reporting to parents is not affected, and extracurricular activities continue unchanged.

“We hope this added pressure on administration will influence government sufficiently to get progress happening at the bargaining table,” Helmer said.

“There is no plan at this point to escalate the job action to stage two, and if there is movement in bargaining, we hope a settlement can be reached before we need to consider escalation.”

Thiessen sent a letter home with students Tuesday explaining how the job action is being handled and says updates will be provided on the district website and to local media.

In his letter to parents Thiessen said teachers will be in classrooms to teach and welcome children.

• The school principal will be at the school and there will be supervision for students before school, at recess and after school.

• Noon hour supervisors, teacher assistants, clerical and custodians will continue as scheduled.

• Bus service will continue as scheduled.

• Crosswalk guards will continue as scheduled.

“The relationship between teachers and management in this district is positive, and I am confident it will remain so during and after this job action,” Thiessen said.

“The board of education and district management are working in good faith to address issues at the local level in a timely manner.”

If the BCTF plans to escalate strike activity beyond Phase one the union is expected to provide at least two working days notice, Thiessen said.

“If this occurs, we will send parents further updates as to what action the district will be taking.”

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