B.C. teachers have go-ahead for a three-day walkout

British Columbia schools could be shuttered as early as the start of next week if teachers elect to take advantage of a short window to stage a legal strike while the government pushes through legislation to suspend job action.

VANCOUVER — British Columbia schools could be shuttered as early as the start of next week if teachers elect to take advantage of a short window to stage a legal strike while the government pushes through legislation to suspend job action.

The year-long teachers’ dispute came to a head Tuesday when the union won the right to walk off the job and the government introduced legislation imposing a cooling-off period in hopes of averting any ongoing walkout.

The Labour Relations Board ruled teachers were allowed to take an initial three-day strike, and then one day per week afterwards, as long as parents were given two days advance notice.

Hours later, Education Minister George Abbott stood in the legislature to announce a bill that would suspend all strike and lockout activities. He also appointed a mediator to develop a set of non-binding recommendations by the end of the school year.

But the union representing the teachers rejected the bill as a “political” and “phoney” process that will only lead to a “pre-determined” end to the ongoing dispute, and said teachers will decide as early as Thursday whether to act on their newly won right to strike.

It means a strike could commence by early next week.

“This is a government that uses rhetoric and misleads,” Susan Lambert, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation told reporters in Vancouver.

“This is a government, in fact, that is proposing a sham mediation process — one that is in a very tight box that must address the strips that the government is demanding on the table.”

The government’s house leader said the legislation could be debated all next week and it could be the following week before it’s passed.

Rich Coleman said the government has no plans to fast-track debate on the legislation. But he also said that could change.

“We’ll let the legislation be debated as long as things go along as normal and people stay within the law,” Coleman said.

“Right now, we’ve had this work-to-rule thing. Does it matter if it’s another week to 10 days to legislate a contract to settle this thing?”

Abbott said Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act, extends the current expired contract to allow the mediator to work with all sides to reach a new deal that still falls within the government’s net-zero wage mandate.

He said if no solution is found by the time school resumes in the fall, the government will impose a contract.

“I do not want to see students have to go through what they’ve experienced this year again,” Abbott said.

“We did not come to this point to have a strike in September, I can assure you.”

Teachers were to vote Tuesday and Wednesday on whether to initiate the job action. Asked whether they would consider a further, illegal strike, Lambert said the union will analyze its options.

“The punitive fines for contravention of the act are outrageous, and a deliberate attempt to intimidate, bully and bludgeon,” she said.

The act includes stiff financial penalties for the union, employer and individuals in the event of an illegal strike.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read