With teachers from across BC ready to strike on the first day of school if a new collective agreement can’t be negotiated before the summer comes to an end, both the Prince Rupert school board and the local teachers union are assuring residents that classes won’t be canceled and that most people won’t even see much of a difference.
While 90 per cent of public school teachers in BC voted last week to “strike” if a deal cannot be made, it isn’t actually like a strike in the usual sense.
Instead of closing the schools, teachers are threatening to stop performing all administrative work outside of just teaching in the classroom, hoping that this will put pressure on the Provincial Government, which has refused to even consider giving the teachers pay increases, without risking back-to-work legislation.
“We are hoping that it puts enough pressure to get them back to the table with some reasonable offers,” said Joanna Larson, the president of the Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union.
While things like paperwork may not be done while the teachers are on strike, the union says it will try to inconvenience students and parents as little as possible. For instance, there will be no official report cards given out if the teachers are striking, but Larson says that teachers will find a way to keep parents notified on how their student is doing in class. Things like nutritional programs, recess supervision and other jobs that teachers do will still be done.
“It’s going back to what teachers love; it’s going back to why we came to this job: to teach only. Services to kids and parents are still there, it’s just the administrative stuff we’re dropping, all the extras that have increased our workload and are stressing teachers out,” explained Larson.
“We think most families aren’t going to notice much of a difference in September.”
Both the union and the school board are hopeful that it won’t have to come to a strike in September, but according to the representative from the school board’s negotiating team, Cam McIntyre, the strike would simply mean more work for the administrators at local schools.