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Teacher lockouts begin as negotiations fail

Charles Hays teachers Wes Baker, Jeff Saunders, Mikael Russell, Joshua McDonald and Kiara Hart were picketing outside the school on Tuesday.  - Shaun Thomas
Charles Hays teachers Wes Baker, Jeff Saunders, Mikael Russell, Joshua McDonald and Kiara Hart were picketing outside the school on Tuesday.
— image credit: Shaun Thomas

The amount of time teachers on the North Coast and around B.C. will be allowed to spend in school is being cut as the B.C. Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA) begins lockouts.

Teachers in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, who participated in rotating strikes yesterday, will  not be permitted in schools until 45 minutes before the start of classes and will need to leave within 45 minutes of the final bell ringing and are being locked out during the lunch hour. BCPSEA is also cutting teachers’ salaries by 10 per cent.

“Teacher strike action in the last month has included not attending meetings, not talking with principals and not supervising students outside of class time. This is BCPSEA saying they don’t feel teachers are doing 10 per cent of their work so they are reducing the salary by 10 per cent,” said Prince Rupert School District superintendent Sandy Jones, who said she hopes this is a short-term situation.

“These are big challenges and I know the two parties are very far apart at the table ... but for the kids, the parents and everyone I remain hopeful.”

While Jones said extracurricular activities are voluntary by teachers and should not be impacted, Prince Rupert District Teachers Union president Kathy Murphy said that is not the case.

“It is tough to volunteer when teachers are being locked out 45 minutes before and after school. To then come back 10 minutes later to volunteer and help with extra curricular activities is difficult,” she said.

“This is just a justification to take 10 per cent of the teacher’s wages. They’re locking us out and preventing us from working with and helping  the kids.”

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