B.C. teachers vote overwhelmingly for job action

Union to return to bargaining table in an effort to avoid strike

Despite an overwhelming vote in favor of a strike the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) will return to the bargaining table.

The recent vote saw 26,051 members vote for job action, giving the union an 89 per cent strike mandate. The 41,000 teachers represented by BCTF have been without a contract since June 2013 despite more than 40 sessions at the table and a full year of bargaining.

Wages, class sizes and class composition are ongoing issues, the union said.

According to the BCTF, the government’s most recent offer would see teachers in the province go without a wage increase for another two years, despite other public sector workers recently receiving increases of as much as four per cent.

The union now has 90 days to initiate a form of job action, but BCFT president Jim Iker said a return to the bargaining table is the next step.

“The strike vote is the first stage to put pressure on,” Iker said. “For us it’s not about going on strike. We don’t want to go on strike. We want a deal at the bargaining table.”

If job action does occur, he said, it will come in stages. In an effort to prevent school closures and disruptions to students, the first stage of job action would be administrative.

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