Members of the B.C. Teachers' Federation are mulling over their next step in response to new government legislation that prohibits them from striking, but a vote won't likely happen until after Easter, when spring break concludes.
Last Thursday, the Liberal government passed Bill 22, legislation that prohibits teachers from striking and imposes hefty fines if they do. It's the government's latest move in a labour dispute that started last spring.
Teacher delegates were planning and discussing their next move at the BCTF's annual general meeting, which ran from March 17 to 20 in Vancouver. Most of the planning is happening in camera, but options could include pulling back from extra-curricular activities, as some districts have already done, or striking illegally and facing heavy fines, a tactic backed by the Victoria branch of the teachers' union.
A BCTF spokesperson said there may be an announcement regarding the union's next move on Wednesday. All of the BCTF's 41,000 members will vote on how to proceed, but the spokesperson said that won't happen until after Easter, which falls on April 8 and 9 this year. School districts take their spring breaks at different times, and the union wants to wait until all B.C. teachers are back at work before holding a vote on their next move. In Burnaby, spring break runs from March 17 to 25.
Teachers have been refusing to do administrative work since September, but they escalated to a full-scale strike for three days earlier this month. Education is considered an essential service in B.C., so they must have prior approval from the Labour Relations Board before carrying out job action.
While the government is sticking to its net-zero mandate, meaning no new money for teachers' salaries, the BCTF is asking for wage and market adjustment increases that would total more than 15 per cent over three years. The BCTF estimates the proposal would cost $565 million, while the provincial government's figure is $2 billion.
No one from the Burnaby Teachers' Association was available for comment.