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Revelstoke teachers on strike Tuesday, May 27

Revelstoke teachers picket during their last strike action in March 2012. - Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review
Revelstoke teachers picket during their last strike action in March 2012.
— image credit: Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review

The Revelstoke School District is asking parents to keep their children at home on Tuesday when local teachers go on strike.

The Revelstoke Teachers Association is going on strike for one day, on Tuesday, May 27, as part of a series of rotating strikes taking place across the province.

"While school facilities will remain open under the supervision of principals and vice principals, we will be unable to provide students with instruction or appropriate supervision during this period of job action," wrote superintendent Mike Hooker in a letter to parents. "For safety reasons, we are therefore requesting that parents keep their children at home"

The B.C. Teachers' Federation plans to start one-day rotating strikes at schools around the province on Monday, rejecting the offer of a $1,200 signing bonus for an agreement by the end of the school year.

BCTF president Jim Iker said Tuesday the bonus doesn't make up for the government's wage offer of 6.5% over six years. A simultaneous plan to cut teacher wages 5% or more because of strike action is "just so disrespectful, so unnecessary, and we'll be dealing with it at the Labour Relations Board," Iker said.

Unless there is some compromise on major issues, one-day strikes with picket lines will be staged at one group of school districts in each of the first four days next week, with teachers returning to work across the province on Friday, May 30.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the signing bonus and reducing the contract term from 10 years to six were significant efforts to move toward a settlement.

"Unfortunately the announcement today says that the BCTF feels that disrupting classrooms, affecting children and their families is going to help to reach a settlement," Fassbender told reporters in Vancouver.

Iker reiterated the union's position that more pay, more teachers and a return to contract language guaranteeing class size and special needs support are needed to reach a settlement.

Peter Cameron, chief negotiator for the province's 60 school districts, informed the union last week that a 5% pay cut will be put in place "soon" in response to the first phase of strike action.

The BCTF began work-to-rule action in April, refusing supervision outside classrooms and communication with school management. Rotating strikes were also authorized by the BCTF membership in a March vote, and beginning to shut down schools could result in an effort to cut teacher pay by 10%.

Cameron said last week the union's latest wage demand amounts to 15.9% over four years, far beyond what other provincial public service unions have received. The BCTF maintains its wage proposal is 13.25% over four years, including cost-of-living increases based on each year's inflation rate.

With reporting from Tom Fletcher/Black Press

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