British Columbia

B.C. teachers' strike and lockout: 8 things you need to know

What's going to happen to Grade 12 exams and grad ceremonies? Can parents meet with teachers? Who is supervising recess? What happens next? And whose fault is this anyway?

CBC legislative reporter Stephen Smart answers questions about the B.C. teachers' contract dispute

Teachers' labour dispute questions

CBC News Vancouver at 6

7 years ago
B.C. government's negotiator says grad ceremonies can go ahead 4:15

What does the B.C. teachers' contract dispute mean for students and parents? The CBC's legislative reporter Stephen Smart answers your most pressing questions.

1. Are Grade 12 exams and final marks affected?

Not at this point. Currently there are no provincial exams scheduled on days where job action is set to take place. But if that was to change, the issue would likely be sent to the Labour Relations Board to be declared an essential service as has happened in previous disputes.

2. What's going to happen to my grad ceremony?

There is no rule that prohibits teachers from continuing to be involved in graduation events. The employer considers such activities to be extra-curricular and as such volunteer. So they don't fall into the category of paid work being scaled back.

The B.C. Public School Employers' Association says in a May 22nd memo to teachers that "there is nothing in the lockout that prevents BCTF members from continuing to participate in such activities as graduation, sports, and awards events."

The BCPSEA notes some teachers may choose not to take part and some schools may scale down events as a result, but that would be by choice. For example, a high school in Greater Victoria where graduation ceremonies are taking place on the same day as the rotating teacher strike is not being affected.

3. Can parents still meet with teachers? 

Yes. The information given to teachers from the government clearly states: "Nothing in the lockout order prevents individual teachers from discussing student needs or concerns with their colleagues or school administration. Teachers are also still free to meet with students or contact parents as needed."

That being said, there is confusion on the part of teachers about how this fits with other rules saying teachers cannot work during lunch and cannot work for more than 45 minutes before or after school.

4. Who is looking after children at recess and lunch?

Teachers stopped performing supervisory duties at recess and lunch on April 23 as part of their stage 1 job action. These duties have since been handled by administrators and other staff, except in certain districts where a lack of staff has prompted the cancellation of recess.

5. What is likely to happen after the first week of rotating strikes if there is no deal?

Contract talks between the teachers and government scheduled for Friday have been cancelled and it's expected teachers will conduct two weeks of rotating strikes before the teachers' union calls for a vote on whether to escalate to stage 3 — a full strike.

6. Will the government table back-to-work legislation (again)?

B.C. teachers are seen at the legislature, protesting back-to-work legislation in 2012, during the last round of failed contract negotiations. (CBC)

It's too soon to tell, but given the status of bargaining, that is a definite possibility if the two sides can't come to a deal.

There have been three legislated contracts and one legislated cooling-off period since provincewide bargaining was established in the mid-1990s.

7. Whose fault is all this anyway?

Both sides blame the other for the current contract impasse. Citing differences in salary and benefits demands among a host of other issues, including class size and composition.  

But the reality is this is a dysfunctional bargaining relationship and has been for the better part of three decades. Read more about the history and changing dynamics of this teachers dispute here.

It has been 27 years since teachers were given the full right to collective bargaining and strike action by the Social Credit Government.

During that first period, when bargaining was done on a district-by-district basis, there were 48 strikes and three lockouts.

Then in 1994, the NDP implemented province-wide bargaining.

They were concerned about the B.C. Teachers' Federation negotiating, what some considered, sweetheart deals with certain districts then using those as leverage with other districts.

The BCTF opposed this move disagreeing with the accusation.

But the main fight has occurred under the B.C. Liberal watch and in particular, that of former Education Minister turned Premier Christy Clark.

All in all, since province-wide bargaining came into being in 1994, there have been three province-wide strikes shutting down schools for 14 days.

There have been three legislated contracts and a government imposed cooling off period.  In fact, there have only been two deals actually negotiated between the two sides over the past 20 years. 

Inflaming the situation now, is the fact the B.C. Liberal government has twice been found by the courts to have violated teachers' constitutional rights in their move to restrict the unions' ability to negotiate on issues of class size and composition.

Just this past January, the B.C. Supreme Court found not only had government violated those charter rights of teachers but had repeated the violation in legislation meant to fix their previous mistake.

The court also found the government had tried to provoke a teachers strike in order to sway public opinion towards the province's position during the 2012 teachers dispute.

The government is appealing the ruling, but a decade of court battles has galvanized the resolve of teachers and the union.

8. What is the schedule of the rotating strike?

Week 1 teachers' 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.

Week 2 teachers' strike schedule

Monday, June 2

#20 - Kootenay-Columbia

#23 - Central Okanagan

#27 - Cariboo-Chilcotin

#35 -Langley

#37 - Delta

#38 - Richmond

#42 - Maple Ridge

#52 - Prince Rupert

#59 - Peace River South

#63 - Saanich

#68 - Nanaimo

#70 - Alberni

#83 - North Okanagan-Shuswap

Tuesday, June 3

#10 - Arrow Lakes

#19 - Revelstoke

#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

#81 - Fort Nelson

Wednesday June 4

  • No rotating strikes

Thursday, June 5

#8 - Kootenay Lake

#34 - Abbotsford

#43 - Coquitlam

#47 - Powell River

#50 - Haida Gwaii

#51 - Boundary

#53 - Okanagan Similkameen

#54 - Bulkley Valley

#60 - Peace River North

#61 - Greater Victoria

#69 - Qualicum

#73 - Kamloops Thompson

#84 - Vancouver Island West

#91 - Nechako Lakes

#92 - Nisga’a

Friday, June 6

#5 - Southeast Kootenay

#6 - Rocky Mountain

#28 - Quesnel

#39 - Vancouver

#40 - New Westminster

#48 - Sea to Sky

#49 - Central Coast

#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

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

Week 3 teachers' strike schedule

Monday, June 9

No rotating strike

Tuesday, June 10

61—Greater Victoria

Wednesday, June 11

06—Rocky Mountain

10—Arrow Lakes




40—New Westminster


44—North Vancouver

45—West Vancouver

46—Sunshine Coast

48—Sea to Sky

50—Haida Gwaii

52—Prince Rupert

54—Bulkley Valley

58—Nicola Similkameen


64—Gulf Islands

67—Okanagan Skaha



79—Cowichan Valley


Thursday, June 12

05—Southeast Kootenay

20—Kootenay Columbia

23—Central Okanagan




42—Maple Ridge

59—Peace River South



72—Campbell River

74—Gold Trail


82—Coast Mountains

83—North Okanagan-Shuswap

84—Vancouver Island West


91—Nechako Lakes

Friday, June 13

08—Kootenay Lake







47—Powell River

49—Central Coast


53—South Okanagan Similkameen

57—Prince George

60—Peace River North



73—Kamloops Thompson

81—Fort Nelson

85—Vancouver Island North


  • This story has been amended to include more background and information about recent relevant court rulings.​
    May 28, 2014 2:34 PM PT