B.C. teachers rally in Vancouver amid strike
A sea of cheering and placard-waving B.C. teachers capped off three days of striking this week with a rally in Vancouver.
The energetic crowd filled the plaza at the Vancouver Art Gallery today (March 7) and expressed opposition to provincial back-to-work legislation.
Bill 22 would suspend legal strike action by teachers and appoint a mediator in an effort to resolve the contract dispute.
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert said the proposed legislation would take away bargaining rights and impose “mock mediation”.
“The people of B.C. demand from their government that it respects the work that teachers do. It demands that the B.C. government respects and values public education,” Lambert told the rally.
“They want this dispute to be resolved respectfully, with dignity, [and] at the table with a fair, negotiated deal with teachers.”
Education Minister George Abbott has defended Bill 22 as a reasonable response to the labour unrest that will allow for a “cooling off” period.
Lambert has told media that teachers will return to the classroom on Thursday after they walked off the job on Monday. Limited job action launched last fall is expected to continue.
Under a recent Labour Relations Board ruling, teachers will still have the right to fully withdraw services on one day a week, with notice, in coming weeks.
Today’s rally in Vancouver followed a demonstration by teachers yesterday outside the legislature in Victoria.