Friday 30 May 2014

May 28, 2014
As President of the Peace River North Teachers' Association, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the many gestures and acts of kindness the community of Fort St. John and area gave to teachers today while they were on the picket line. Thank you to CUPE members who are standing strong with teachers as we oppose a government that has little respect for education and educators. Teachers were brought gifts of food from many of you today - a huge thank you to the fire fighters, parents, students, retired teachers, teachers of leave, general public, and many businesses who brought donuts, Tim bits, ice caps, coffee, water, muffins, pizza, apples, and so much more to show you are standing with us during this time. Your generosity was overwhelming. Just so everyone knows, we will be on the picket line again on Thursday, June 5th. We will continue to keep calm, but remain strong!

Monday 26 May 2014

Christy Clarks lockout creates confusion
May 26, 2014
Why is BCPSEA locking out teachers?
The lockout appears to be a retaliatory move on behalf of BCPSEA. We are vocal advocates for improvements in public education including increased funding, better support for our students, and the return of class size, class composition, and staffing levels for specialist teachers. We also want a fair-wage increase after taking zero wage increases the last two years.
How can BCPSEA dock teacherspay? Is this allowed?
BCPSEA first said they would charge the BCTF $5 million per month to pay for the employers share of teacher benefits premiums while we conduct the Stage 1 job action. Then they said they would not do that and instead would cut every teacherspay by 5%. When we announced we were shifting to Stage 2 rotating strikes, they said they were going to partially lock teachers out and dock our pay by 10% for the days we were working. They want parents and the public to believe that if teachers are partially locked out that means teachers are not working and therefore deserve to be paid less. That is one of the arguments they will use at the Labour Relations Board. An LRB hearing is scheduled for May 29.
Why did BCPSEA say the lockout was a living document that needed tweaking?
The terms of the lockout are contradictory, confusing, and chaotic. Saying it needed tweaking was one way of covering up that the lockout doesnt make much sense. It is poorly conceived and appears to have been hastily written by someone who is unfamiliar with day-to-day life in schools.
Why is it chaotic?
For one, the lockout notice says teachers cannot enter their workplaces earlier that 45 minutes before the bell. Teachers also must leave their schools no later than 45 minutes after the dismissal bell. The lockout also stipulates that teachers cannot work with students during lunch or recess or communicate with parents during that time either.
Many after school extra-curricular activities last longer than 45 minutes. The same goes for morning activities. Clubs and other kinds of small group activities are often scheduled during lunch. If a teacher is locked out at these times, they cant very well work with kids then.
Didnt BCPSEA say teachers could volunteer?
Yes, but they are contradicting their very own lockout. On the one hand they say, teachers can
carry out extra-curricular activities because they say extra-curricular is voluntary. But then they say they are docking teacherspay because teachers cannot work during the lockoutthe very time that teachers have for extra-curricular. How can they dock teacherspay for activities they acknowledge are voluntary? That is one example of why the lockout notice is confusing and illogical.
What about field trips? What about working during lunchtime?
Many field trips are full-day affairs. The lockout says teachers cannot work at lunch so locking teachers out at lunchtime jeopardizes field trips. Following the terms of BCPSEAs lockout, who would supervise the students at lunchtime? If teachers stay and supervise, then they could become personally liable for any situation. In addition, it is unclear whether any WorkSafeBC coverage would be in effect because the teacher would not be officially working. The lockout puts both teachers and their students in a precarious position.
What else should I know about the lockout?
The lockout also says that teachers cannot do professional development on their own time, only during a scheduled non-instructional day. This makes no sense either. Does it mean a teacher cannot read a professional article, talk about it with other teachers, attend a workshop on a Saturday morning? Again, teachers are being docked pay for activities they do on their own time. And for activities that help us to continue to grow as teachers.
The lockout also prohibits teachers from meeting to plan and organize next years classes. This does not bode well for the coming school year.
Why are they locking out teachers the last three days of school?
To save money and to act punitively. It is a terrible way to end the school year.
How are teachers feeling about this whole thing?
Not great. The lockout will damage relationships between school districts and the teachers they employ. First, the collective agreement was stripped in 2002. From then until now, thousands of teaching jobs throughout the province have been cut. Schools have been closed. Weve seen an ongoing and steady underfunding of public education. We live it everyday and see how it affects our students. Waiting lists for services are the norm. Lots of kids miss out on the help they need. The lockout adds insult to injury. Please tell Christy Clark and Peter Fassbender and local school trustees to do the right thing. Bargain in good faith and fund public education the way it deserves.
SC:unifor/vt:tfeu 140526

Saturday 24 May 2014

 Information letters for parents in English, French, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), and Punjabi regarding the recent job action are available by clicking on the link: