Parents, students, teachers, administrators and trustees all want to see a negotiated settlement reached with the BCTF leadership. Unfortunately, negotiations sometimes require that the parties use the available labour relations tools, such as strikes and lockouts, to help reach an agreement. This information clarifies what the union's strike and the employers' response to the strike might mean to parents and students.
Q: What is going on? What is a full strike?
Recently the BCTF initiated a full withdrawal of non-essential services, which is expected to impact the last 9 days of school and possibly summer programs.
The BCTF leadership started stage 1 strike activities in April and began stage 2 rotating strikes May 26, closing every school across the province for one day a week for three weeks. In response to the BCTF leadership's stage 1 strike action, BCPSEA, representing school boards in bargaining with the union, issued a partial lockout that includes a pay reduction to reflect the work that is not being performed by BCTF members in compliance with their stage 1 strike.
Q: Will there still be final exams?
YES. Provincial exams for Grades 10, 11 and 12 will be supervised and proceed as scheduled. Students will have picket-free entry into their schools to write provincial exams during BCTF's strike action.
Q: Will my child be able to take a school bus to write the exam?
In rural areas, normal school bus service will continue for the purpose of transporting students to provincial exams.
Q: Will provincial exams be marked? Will I still get my child's report card?
Grade 12 exams will be marked in July and the Official Transcript of Grades will be provided to students by the end of July as per normal practice and schedule.
Report cards are not deemed an essential service for Grades 10 and 11. School districts will determine how to best convey relevant information about Grades 10 and 11 students' progress, available class marks, and provincial exam results. Expect some delays in receiving information about final course grades.
Report cards are not deemed an essential service for Kindergarten to Grade 9. School districts will determine what information they are able to provide, but parents should not expect the usual year-end reporting.
However, parents should have a good sense of their children's progress from previous communications with teachers and report cards issued throughout the year.
Most parents can work under the assumption that their child will be progressing to the next grade. In the few cases where school administrators have concerns about the child's progress, they will contact parents directly.
All teachers will have information on students' progress for the start the 2014-15 school year.
Q: Will there be picket lines at my school?
YES. When a legal strike or lockout is in progress, picketing is permissible as a peaceful means by which employees can increase the pressure on their employer to agree to terms and conditions of employment favourable to them. Support staff working at schools are allowed to respect the picket line.
Q: Can parents cross them?
It is your decision. The purpose of the picket line is to persuade persons not to do work for, or do business with, the employer. A picket line, however, cannot be used to forcibly prevent persons from entering an employer's premises.
Q: Will the principals and vice principals be in the school on strike days?
YES. Unless they are called to perform other duties in the school district, principals and vice principals will be at work in their schools on strike days.
Q: Will my common site daycare be able to operate during the strike?
Common site means a service is operating on school grounds, such as a daycare. Factors such as whether the daycare operates out of a stand-alone building or whether it is staffed by unionized employees will determine if it can operate during the strike action.
Please check with your provider to confirm whether they will be impacted by the strike.
Q: Will the strike affect the Strong Start program at my school?
Strong Starts are community drop-in programs that may operate in or on school property. Check with your local school to determine if it will be open during the strike.
Q: How will the strike impact summer school?
While LRB's decision does not speak directly to summer school, summer school programming is expected to proceed as scheduled in each school district.
However, BCTF strike action may cause disruption to the delivery of summer courses. BCPSEA and the Ministry will work with school districts to look for ways to deliver summer courses without disruption.
Parents and teachers can access more information on bargaining positions and strike impacts on the BCPSEA website at http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/ or on the Ministry of Education website at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/02/teacher-bargaining-information.html
Q: What will the full strike means for special needs students?
Teachers will continue to provide information and participate in the assessments of special needs designation for students. As well, new and continuing designations for special needs students will be issued without disruption.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education