Striking teachers in the Nelson area are asking other unions members and supporters to join them on Wednesday in the city’s prime public gathering space.
“On Wednesday the teachers are holding a rally for public education at City Hall,” said Nelson District Teachers’ Association president Tom Newell. “It’s an information session to help the public understand the key issues which led to the teachers walking out of the classrooms for three days. We want to provide some real understanding of the teachers’ experience with the government and their approach to public education.”
On Monday morning teachers across the province walked off the job in protest against the Bill 22.
The BC government began debate last Thursday on the legislation that would extend the current teacher pay and benefits for another six months, while a mediator works with the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Public School Employers’ Association in an effort to find common ground on class sizes, special needs support and other issues.
Last week nearly 28,000 BCTF members voted yes to the strike option out of the 32,209 who voted, after the government tabled legislation to impose a “cooling-off period” until the end of August and impose heavy fines on the union and its members for strikes during that time. Nearly 9,000 teachers did not vote, and more than 10 per cent or 4,263 voted against strike action.
The Wednesday rally in Nelson will feature speakers and information for the public. It will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Newell told the Star on Monday afternoon that the first morning of the heightened job action went well.
“The response from teachers was in areas where there was a lot of traffic, there was tremendous positive response from honking horns,” he said.
Since this week’s action is considered a demonstration and not a picket line, teachers will be set up for three hours each morning to hand out information.
When teachers return to class on Thursday, Newell is hopeful the drastic action will have had an impact on what the overall situation that has plagued public education since the start of the school year back in September.
“Every teacher that is giving up their chance to be with the kids is asking that question,” said Newell. “You make a concerted effort when you are trying to play against someone who has most of the cards on their side. We believe it will make a difference. The feedback is increasingly positive, I think British Columbians want the parties to get back and get to some real bargaining.”