B.C. teachers vote on taking strike action

Public school teachers across B.C. will be heading to the polls on Tuesday to vote on taking strike action.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation announced last week it would take a strike vote on March 4, 5, and 6

The B.C. Teachers' Federation insists any initial job action will not result in school closures or disruptions. (CBC)

Public school teachers across B.C. will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote on taking strike action.

The vote, which was announced last Tuesday, will take place over the course of the next three days. The B.C. Teachers' Federation says it will make the results public on Thursday evening around 9:30 p.m. PT. 

"In the next three days, our members are going to be voting in support of a strike, in support of the bargaining team, and to achieve a negotiated deal at the bargaining table that represents a fair deal for teachers that includes better supports for students," said BCTF president Jim Iker.

Iker estimates about 41,000 teachers are eligible to take the strike vote. If it passes, teachers will have 90 days to take job action. 

Last week, Iker insisted any initial job action will not include school closures or disruptions, interruptions to extra curricular activities, or disruptions to parent-teacher communications. 

Decades of contention

The strike vote comes after more than a decade of contention between teachers and the B.C. government.

In 2001, the province passed legislation stripping teachers of certain collective bargaining rights, including those having to do with class size and composition and staffing levels. 

Last April, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the legislation was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. It gave the province 12 months to restore rights taken away from teachers.

In January, the court found the government had failed to correct the situation and fined it $2 million for damages.

Days later, B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender announced the province would appeal that ruling

Last week, the B.C. Court of Appeal granted the province an injunction delaying the restoration of teachers' pre-2001 collective bargaining rights while it awaits the appeal. The government has argued that implementing smaller class sizes could cost B.C. taxpayers as much as $1 billion. 

The teachers and the province will resume talks on Tuesday afternoon.

With files from the CBC's Meera Bains

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