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B.C. Government: No legislation planned for teacher strike
VICTORIA – The B.C. government is not planning to legislate a settlement to the latest teacher strike, which is shutting down schools in each district for a day this week.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender said Monday the government is looking for movement from the B.C. Teachers' Federation on its wage and benefit demands, but isn't going to impose another contract extension on the union. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the summer on Thursday.
"To rush to legislation is not where we're going to go," Fassbender said. "We want the BCTF to come to the table with a wage response that is reasonable and within the zone of other public sector unions. We expect them to come with something that is affordable for taxpayers."
After lockout provisions were announced last week to mirror union work hour restrictions that started in April, BCTF president Jim Iker said that would disrupt graduation ceremonies, and sports, drama and clubs would be cancelled.
The B.C. Public School Employers' Association issued a letter to the BCTF Sunday saying Iker's statements are incorrect, and there are no school district restrictions on extracurricular or volunteer activities.
"If teachers withdraw from participation in extracurricular or volunteer activities, they do so at the encouragement of the union and by their own choice," the letter states.
Fassbender also rejected the union's claim that teachers doing volunteer work are not covered for work-related injury.
"Any teacher that is at any activity that is sanctioned by a school district is absolutely covered by WorkSafeBC," Fassbender said. "There is no question of that, and that misinformation should be corrected."