British Columbia

B.C. teachers and province disagree on exam marking

The B.C. Teachers' Federation says a partial employer-imposed lockout means teachers won't be marking final exams for Grade 10 and 11, but the B.C. Public School Employers' Association says the union is misreading the terms of its lockout.

Teachers and province interpret lockout differently

BCTF is linking Premier Christy Clark with their labour dispute 2:12

The B.C. Teachers' Federation says a partial employer-imposed lockout means teachers won't be marking final exams for Grade 10 and 11, participating in extra curricular activities or supervising graduation ceremonies, but the B.C. Public School Employers' Association says the union is misreading the terms of its lockout.

The contract dispute between B.C.'s teachers and the provincial government intensified Thursday as the teachers' union warned of significant disruptions following government threats of a lockout.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation​ called a news conference to warn that many exams, including those for Grade 10 and 11 students, wouldn't be marked, extracurricular activities would be cancelled, including graduation events, and teachers wouldn't be prepared for summer school if the government followed through with its threat.

"On June 24 all Grade 10 English students and Social Studies 11 students are writing their provincial exams," said BCTF president Jim Iker.

"Christy Clark's lockout starts the next day and that will prevent thousands of students' exams from being marked."

Iker also said the terms of the lockout mean teachers won't be available to talk to students during lunch hour or recess, or meet with parents after class.

But in an afternoon news conference called to clarify its lockout terms, Peter Cameron, the B.C. Public School Employers' Association's chief negotiator, said the union is misreading its lockout terms. He maintained  teachers would be able to mark exams, attend graduation ceremonies and participate in extracurricular activities.

Cameron also said teachers have to be more realistic about their class size and composition demands. He said the union's current demands would cost $2 billion or about $1,100 per taxpayer.

The two sides are headed back to the bargaining table today, but Cameron said he's not optimistic, because at this point, they can't even agree on the data they're using to try to hammer out an agreement.

Government issues lockout notice

The developments are the latest escalation in the labour dispute between the province's 41,000 teachers represented by the B.C. Teachers' Federation, and the government, which is represented by the B.C. Public School Employers' Association at the bargaining table.

During the last round of failed contract talks in 2012, striking teachers protested at the provincial legislature against back-to-work legislation. (CBC)

Earlier this week, teachers responded to a government threat to cut their pay by five per cent during the first round of job action, by announcing plans for rotating strikes that would see classes cancelled at every school in the province for one day next week.

The BCPSEA then sent the BCTF a letter Wednesday threatening a partial lockout if teachers move forward with the rotating strikes. It also said that if teachers strike their salaries will be docked 10 per cent, instead of just five.

The letter said the pay reductions are intended to reflect the "work not performed" by the teachers during the strike.

In addition, it says teachers must not work during lunch or recess, and shouldn't be at schools more than 45 minutes before or after their scheduled teaching times.

And if a deal is not reached, teachers will be locked out at high schools on June 25 and June 26. Then on June 27, after the term ends, a general lockout will occur, shutting down all schools across the province. 

The two sides are preparing to get together in face-to-face contract talks, but Iker said he's frustrated by the whole process.

"You know they seem to be putting more energy into ways to attack and threaten us than ways to find an agreement," he said.

Updated strike schedule

Monday, May 26  

  • #5 - Southeast Kootenay
  • #6 - Rocky Mountain
  • #28 - Quesnel
  • #39 - Vancouver
  • #40 - New Westminster
  • #48 - Sea to Sky
  • #49 - Central Coast
  • #59 - Peace River South
  • #62 - Sooke
  • #67 - Okanagan Skaha
  • #72 - Campbell River
  • #74 - Gold Trail
  • #75 - Mission
  • #78 - Fraser-Cascade
  • #82 - Coast Mountains
  • #85 - Vancouver Island North
  • #87 – Stikine

Tuesday, May 27 

  • #10 - Arrow Lakes.
  • #19 - Revelstoke.
  • #20 - Kootenay-Columbia.
  • #23 - Central Okanagan.
  • #27 - Cariboo-Chilcotin.
  • #35 - Langley.
  • #38 - Richmond.
  • #42 - Maple Ridge.
  • #52 - Prince Rupert.
  • #54 - Bulkley Valley.
  • #63 - Saanich.
  • #68 - Nanaimo.
  • #70 - Alberni.
  • #81 - Fort Nelson.
  • #83 - North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Wednesday, May 28 

  •  #8 - Kootenay Lake.
  •  #34 - Abbotsford.
  • #37 - Delta.
  • #43 - Coquitlam.
  • #47 - Powell River.
  • #50 - Haida Gwaii.
  • #51 - Boundary.
  • #53 - Okanagan Similkameen.
  • #60 - Peace River North.
  •  #61 - Greater Victoria.
  •  #69 - Qualicum.
  •  #73 - Kamloops Thompson.
  •  #84 - Vancouver Island West.
  •  #91 - Nechako Lakes.
  •  #92 - Nisga’a.

Thursday May, 29 

  •  #22 - Vernon.
  •  #33 - Chilliwack.
  •  #36 - Surrey.
  •  #41 - Burnaby.
  •  #44 - North Vancouver.
  •  #45 - West Vancouver.
  •  #46 - Sunshine Coast.
  •  #57 - Prince George.
  •  #58 - Nicola Similkameen.
  •  #64 - Gulf Islands.
  •  #71 - Comox.
  •  #79 - Cowichan Valley.

School District #93 (Conseil Scolaire Francophone) schools will be closed with others in their local communities throughout the week.

With files from Emily Elias and The Canadian Press


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