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Grade 12 exams will go on, minister vows

Education Minister Peter Fassbender - Black Press
Education Minister Peter Fassbender
— image credit: Black Press

Even if B.C. teachers walk out before they are locked out for the final days of the school year, final exams will be delivered and marked for graduating students, Education Minister Peter Fassbender promised Thursday.

Facing a 10% pay cut for refusing some of their regular duties and preparing for a third week of rotating strikes around the province, members of the B.C. Teachers' Federation are to vote June 9-10 on whether to resort to a full strike before the school year ends.

Fassbender said the logistics of delivering and marking tests in a strike have not yet been worked out, but he committed the government to make sure they are completed.

BCTF president Jim Iker said Wednesday the union executive decided to hold a new strike vote before the Labour Relations Board ruled that the employer can impose the pay cut. If union members authorize a full walkout, it would mean more field trips will be cancelled and report cards may not be completed in full, Iker said.

The LRB essential services order specifies supervision outside classroom hours if management staff are not available, and any emergencies as determined by school districts, but does not refer to exams.

The LRB has legislated authority to define as essential services "those facilities, productions and services that the board considers necessary or essential to prevent immediate and serious disruption to the provision of educational programs."

Fassbender said the BCTF's latest reduction to its wage proposal isn't nearly enough to bring it in line with other settlements with provincial employees.

The latest BCTF wage proposal is a total increase of 9.75% over four years, plus cost-of-living adjustments in each year depending on inflation. The BCTF has estimated that with inflation, the total increase would be 12.75%.

The B.C. Public School Employers' Association, representing the province's 60 school districts, has proposed a 7.5% wage increase over six years, and recently added a $1,200 signing bonus for an agreement by the end of the school year.

 

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