Another strike day planned for next Thursday in SD43

One strike day down, another to go: Coquitlam district teachers will walk off the job again next Thursday, the BCTF confirms. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
One strike day down, another to go: Coquitlam district teachers will walk off the job again next Thursday, the BCTF confirms.

Tri-City parents whose children attend public school need to make arrangements for their kids for next Thursday — the second day of rotating job action by teachers in School District 43.

BC Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker notified the BC Public School Employers' Association of the planned June 5 job action in a letter Wednesday, the same day SD43's 1,200 teachers and 2,000 unionized support workers were off the job as B.C.-wide rotating strikes hit SD43.

Parents are encouraged to check out the websites of local recreation programs for places to enrol their children. On Wednesday, dozens of kids spent the day doing games and other activities at the Sasamat Outdoor Centre and Place des Arts.

Meanwhile, Tri-City schools were quiet, with principals on duty but no one else in the classroom to provide instruction. It's not known how many, if any, students showed up at SD43 schools but the mood was elevated on the picket line, where kids brought donuts and cookies and cars honked for placard-wearing teachers. Even the rain held off for the walkout.

For Moody middle school Grade 6/7 teacher Barb Buczewski, the walkout was necessary because of the province's refusal to put class sizes and composition issues on the bargaining table and offer more money for wages.

"It's just our hands are tied. Nobody wants to be out here," Buczewski said.

CUPE workers also stayed off the job, said Local 561 president Dave Ginter, who visited a couple of schools to show support for striking teachers. He said most CUPE workers would take the day off using overtime hours or vacation pay but next Thursday's walkout might be harder on support staff, who back teachers but need the money.

"It gets harder as it goes along," Ginter said.


Meanwhile, as teachers prepare for another day of job action June 5, there could be a silver lining as SD43 is likely to receive some of the provincial strike savings, estimated at $12 million a week based on a single day of rotating strike in each school district. A Ministry of Education spokesperson confirmed that 80% of the strike savings would be returned to the province and 20% would be shared by B.C. school districts.

Another $1.2 million in daily savings by cutting teacher wages by 10% (on non-strike days) while a partial lockout is in force will be divvied up based on the same formula.

After the last strike in 2012, saved wages were used to bolster a Learning Improvement Fund, with the remainder used by school boards for education priorities.

Ginter said he hoped SD43's share of the strike savings would be used to reduce the number of layoffs planned in the district. In early May, the district issued layoff notices to 630 teachers and 200 CUPE workers in a bid to to cut $13.4 million to balance its budget.

"I'd like to see the savings come back and possibly be used to bring back some positions — and not those three management positions. Bring back some of those positions that they laid off," Ginter said.

He's also still not convinced the district has done enough to justify layoffs or provide for those losing their jobs, although some retraining money has been set aside.

Ginter plans to ask the Labour Relations Board for a Section 54 ruling to compel the district to consult more and establish an adjustment plan.


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