A new poll suggests British Columbians are backing teachers in their contract dispute with the provincial government.
Angus Reid Global says 41 per-cent support the teachers, versus 30 per-cent backing the government’s position.
But 22 per-cent say they don’t support either side.
Meanwhile, among parents support for the union rises to 51 per-cent.
The online survey of 804 people has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per-cent, 19 times out of 20.
The war of words between the BC Teachers Federation and the government continued on Day 1 of rotating walkouts.
Just hours before teachers hit the picket line this morning, the Education Minister put out a statement, saying it’s on the teachers hands that education is being disrupted and the government is not preventing teachers from extracurricular activities.
Union President Jim Iker says teachers have liability issues because they are not covered by WCB when volunteering.
“We also have to keep our members safe, in terms of the work that they do, including voluntary work.”
Bargaining continues today through Wednesday. Rotating strikes will continue through Thursday.
No word yet on further job action.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender says the government has no plans to legislate a contract with BC teachers as it has in the past.
But he says it’s up to the union to come to the bargaining table today with more realistic wage demands.
“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 is affordable for taxpayers.”
The government has estimated the combined wage and benefit demands by the union amount to a 20 per-cent overall increase.
Meanwhile, teachers in Sooke are being told by their local union president not to engage in any extracurricular activities during the ongoing strike/lockout, and not to access any web site affiliated with the employer.
That last directive has Fassbender scratching his head.
“We live in a free and democratic society and I think everybody should be able to access any information that is readily available and I think it’s unfortunate that a directive comes from their leadership to say you shouldn’t access websites to get facts.”
Fassbender says it’s up to individual teachers to decide if they will follow the union’s order.
NDP leader John Horgan is blaming the provincial government for the ongoing labour dispute with teachers—and he’s singling out the Liberals’ chief negotiator.
Horgan says the strike and lockout are the latest chapter in a long sorry history he lays at the feet of the government.
“A child who started in grade 1 in 2002 has had 12 years of confusion as a result of this government’s policies.”
And Horgan says chief negotiator Peter Cameron’s confusing lock-out order has put everything from exams to grad ceremonies in doubt.
“It took five pages in a letter from the chief negotiator and I’m still not clear!”
Horgan calls Cameron cantankerous and vociferous, but stops short of calling for his replacement.
“I don’t think he’s doing us any favours.”
Meanwhile, after dealing with the teacher’s strike today the Vancouver School Board will now try to figure out the confusing teacher’s partial lock out tomorrow.
Chair Patti Bacchus says confusion is king when it comes to potential impacts on report cards, provincial exams, WCB coverage, and field trips.
“We are still in a state of probably more questions than answers on a whole series of issues and my phone is ringing non-stop.”
Bacchus says the silver lining of beginning the week behind teacher’s picket lines is….time.
“This one day does give us a little bit of room to try and seek clarification and provide some certainty to our schools.”
Under a partial lock out teachers can’t arrive at school any earlier than 45 minutes prior or leave any later than 45 minutes after.
They also can’t interact with students on breaks or at lunch.