Three-day teacher strike underway

Teachers Matt Lucas, Dennis Cook, Susan Brower and Mike Hovanas stand in front of Parkside Secondary school this morning. - Janine Workman
Teachers Matt Lucas, Dennis Cook, Susan Brower and Mike Hovanas stand in front of Parkside Secondary school this morning.
— image credit: Janine Workman

Local teachers are demonstrating their right to strike this morning outside of schools in Terrace and Thornhill.

Holding signs that ask for mediation and denounce budget cuts, teachers are trying to get their message across.

“What we would like is for the government to reconsider their legislation on Bill 22 to give us time to have meaningful mediation,” said Karen Andrews, president of the Terrace and District Teachers' Union (TDTU).

Bill 22 is provincial government legislation, introduced in the legislature last week, which would ban further strikes for six months while a mediator looks for common ground to end in a contract agreeable to both parties.

However, the TDTU's representative at the BC Teachers Federation, Kathy Lambright, said the mediation proposed in Bill 22 is restrictive and leaves a lot of issues out of negotiations.

“It's not true mediation because the government has set specific parameters for the mediator,” Lambright said.

Although banned from picketing, teachers are handing out leaflets, which give their side of the current standoff with the provincial government over wages, benefits and classroom conditions.

They have also prepared a letter to hand out to parents who stop by.

“We don't make this decision lightly, teachers would rather be working and teaching in classrooms, but unfortunately with the chronic underfunding across the province in education we need to take a stand for the benefit of our students,” Andrews said the letter explains.

The strike will last for three days, with classrooms set to be back in session on Thursday.

Principals, vice principals and support workers are all still on the job.

The Coast Mountains school district has urged parents to find alternative care for their children throughout the three-day strike.

Until Bill 22 is passed, teachers will be able to continue to put pressure on the provincial government by striking one day a week with advance notice.

Bill 22 could be passed and proclaimed later this week.

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