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Teachers’ rotating strikes kick off in School District 5 Monday

The B.C. Teachers' Federation plans to start one-day rotating strikes at schools around the province on Monday.

Locally, the rotating strikes will hit School District 5 for one day on Monday, May 26.

School District 5 is asking that parents keep their children at home for that day.

"While school facilities will remain open under the supervision of school district staff, we will be unable to provide students with instruction or appropriate supervision during this period of job action," a school district press release read. "We are therefore requesting that parents keep their children at home."

It notes that school principals will be able to address any additional information that parents may have.

"It is the sincere hope of the Board of Education that this dispute will be concluded quickly and that normal school operations will resume as quickly as possible," the district wrote. "In the meantime, we will do our utmost to keep you informed in a timely manner over the next week."

You can also refer to the school district website, www.sd5.bc.ca, as well local radio and newspaper for further information.

The rotating strikes come as BCTF is 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 per cent over six years. A simultaneous threat to cut teacher wages 5 per cent 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.

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 per cent 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 per cent.

Cameron said last week the union's latest wage demand amounts to 15.9 per cent 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.

The BCTF's school district 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

#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

#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

#8 - Kootenay Lake

#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

#82 - Coast Mountains

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