- Our Town
Revelstoke teachers take to the picket lines
Revelstoke teachers took to the picket lines on Tuesday — their day to take part in a series of rotating strikes by teachers across British Columbia.
"It's nice and sunny so that makes it a little bit easier," said teacher Jason Stevens, who is the union representative for Revelstoke Secondary School.
Teachers hung around and held up signs — some that were provided by the B.C. Teachers Federation and some that were made by sympathetic students.
The teachers and the province are in the middle of a very public negotiation for a new contract.
Teachers are asking for raises after going without in the last two-year contract, but the main sticking point is class size and composition.
The union wants class size and composition language re-instated into the contract after it was stripped away by the BC Liberal government more than a decade ago. Recent court rulings have ordered the language re-instated, but the government is resisting.
"I appreciate the government would have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to adhere to the court decision, but the union can't give up on something that the courts have said you were in the right," said Stevens. "The government has provoked you to strike, the government has violated the charter of rights and freedoms. How as a union can you say you'll forgo that and we'll forgive you? It's something we've got to fight for."
In Revelstoke, where class sizes are generally smaller than the provincial average, composition is the main issue, with a large number of special needs students in many classes.
Stevens also said that a wage increase is important after not seeing one in three years. "It's not that we're trying to get ahead of the game, but we can't keep falling behind," he said.
The dispute has escalated in recent weeks, with the teachers' decision to strike followed by the province's decision to lockout teachers outside of classroom time and dock their pay.
Classes resume on Wednesday.