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REPORTING · 28th May 2014
Walter McFarlane
Teachers in Kitimat were on a Rotating Strike on Monday May 26th as their labour action increased. Things went well, with the exception of the weather. Other labour unions joined the picket lines on their breaks and CUPE workers joined the lines when they found they could not get into the schools.

“I think we’re getting a lot of parents support, not just in Kitimat and Terrace but right across the province because people are starting to see the ridiculousness of what’s going on,” said Kim Meyer from the Kitimat District Teachers Association.

The top priorities of teachers around the province are class size and composition which is what they have been asking for since 2002. While in Kitimat, class sizes have been in decline and only a few classes in the high school are big, the biggest issue is composition.

“It allows us to meet the needs of the kids in the classroom in front of us,” said Meyer. “There are multiple individual education plans, 7, 8, 9 of them in a classroom. On top of that there are behavior plans, on top of that, there are students who are on waiting lists for testing. They have issues, the professionals that work with them every day know that those kids have issues, but we can’t get them tested because you can only test so many kids in one year with the money we get for testing. It makes it impossible to reach the kids in their classroom.”

In addition, the teachers are looking for salary increases, which they have not received in several years. Meyer stated the government is offering a few more years of zeros.

The rotating strike will rotate to different days of the week if it continues to next week.

However, what is causing the most problems is the government’s announcement of the limited lock out which is going on at the schools. Under it, teachers have to be at the school 45 minutes before the start of the school day and have to be gone 45 minutes after school gets out. They are not allowed to work with students at lunch time. In addition, the teachers have had a pay cut during the labour action.

“It is extremely confusing, it’s extremely convoluted,” said Meyer. “What they have done is ensure that things like scholarship nights and awards nights, graduation, they’ve made it impossible for teachers to attend.”

Meyer explained that phase one and phase two were designed to keep disruption away from the classroom and the students while putting pressure on the administration and the government. As far as the teachers know, they cannot do work at home, which includes report cards.

The two sides went into negotiation again today in Vancouver so the KDTA is keeping it’s fingers crossed for best.

Meyer would like to thank the community for the support, the other unions for dropping by and the parents and supporters who drive by and honk for the teachers who are on the picket lines.