Teachers take to the streets

Vernon teachers caught the attention of hundreds of motorists as they lined 32nd Street Monday.

Following the morning study session at the Vernon Recreation Complex, the faces of local education brought their signs and smiles out to the major thoroughfare at 1 p.m., where they were greeted with honks and waves of support.

"This is our day of rotating strikes and we are demonstrating the current negotiations with the government," said Heather Malcolm, Vernon Teachers’ Association president.

Tuesday marks the start of a full withdrawal of services, and Malcolm has no idea how long it could last.

But Vernon and North Okanagan-Shuswap school districts are preparing for extended strikes as schools had students clean out their desks and lockers Friday.

Provincial exams will continue and Grade 12 teachers will be required to submit marks, but there will be no kindergarten to Grade 11 report cards until the strike is over. Graduation ceremonies will also go ahead as planned.

If an agreement is reached before the end of June, students will bring required supplies back to school.

But in the meantime, teachers have a firm stance on the picket lines.

"They are solid, united in their efforts to get a fair deal for teachers and better supports for our kids," said Malcolm.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation and provincial government failed to reach a deal after negotiators met until midnight Sunday.

"I was very hopeful that negotiations would go well over the weekend, I was very hopeful they would have reached a settlement," said Malcolm. "But the government didn’t come to the table with a mood to negotiate so now I’m still cautiously optimistic.

"They’ve said that they wanted to come and bargain in good faith and they haven’t demonstrated that."

Peter Cameron, chief negotiator for B.C.'s 60 school districts, says the latest proposal from teachers is still too expensive.



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