Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School teachers picket outside the school on Monday

Kitimat teachers on strike in a week of rotating strikes

Kitimat teachers on the picket line today as part of a week of job action across the province.

Today Kitimat’s teachers would have joined the rest of the Coast Mountain School District in a strike day, part of a rotating strike schedule outlined by the BC Teachers Federation.

Kitimat District Teachers Association (KDTA) President Kim Meyer said on Friday that the local members were still trying to sort out the details from a letter outlining lock-out details for the province’s teachers.

The partial lockout, effective Monday, mirrors the B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s first stage of strike action, refusing student supervision outside classroom hours and communication with management. With rotating strikes beginning this week, the lockout is an attempt to bolster the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association case for cutting salaries by 10 per cent in response to the strike action.

“As it stands I expect a lot of things to be affected. Field trips, I’m pretty sure we’re going to start cancelling those. In fact I think one got cancelled in Terrace today,” said Meyer.

She said she wasn’t aware of any Kitimat field trips being cancelled.

This week is Kitimat’s student awards night as well and unless it gets moved to a new location she said teachers won’t be attending that either.

“We can’t attend those, we’re locked out, so we can’t be there.”

Meyer said she was unsure what this week would bring as far as developments in the job action.

BCTF president Jim Iker told a news conference Thursday the stop-work order will disrupt after-hours activities, including graduation ceremonies, which the union had sought to protect with the early stages of strike action.

“No more calls to parents, no more emails home, it all comes to an end because of the lockout,” Iker said.

BCPSEA administrator Michael Marchbank notified the union of the lockout terms in a letter delivered last Wednesday. The letter also confirmed that if no agreement is reached, secondary school teachers will be locked out June 25 and 26, and all BCTF members will be locked out June 27, the last day of the school year for most schools.

Iker said the year-end lockout may disrupt year-end report cards and marking of provincial exams for graduating students.

BCPSEA says the BCTF’s wage and benefit demands add up to 21.5 per cent over four years.