Sooke teachers will withdraw some services

Sooke teachers are protesting the passing of Bill 22

Teachers in the Sooke school district with be withdrawing from extracurricular activities immediately in order to protest the passage of Bill 22.

“It’s really a desperate act because legally we have nothing we can do to demonstrate our protest,” said Patrick Henry, president of the Sooke Teachers’ Association. “This is literally the last thing we can do legally.”

Educators involved in volunteer activities like coaching sports teams, theatre groups and after school programs will stop participation.

“It is not a whimisical decision, it’s very difficult for teachers because they love doing those things as much as the kids do,” he said.

Henry said Sooke and many other districts have called on parents, volunteers and administrators to act in place of teachers so extracurricular activities can continue.

Senior basketball will continue as the teams are already in the finals. Any upcoming paid trips will also continue.

In 2002, the BC government passed Bills 27 and 28, which Henry said back-tracked on previously agreed on terms from bargaining rounds.

Teachers proceeded with court action. In April 2011, the Supreme Court deemed the government violated the teachers’ charter rights, and ordered the government to remediate the 2002 legislation, which resulted in Bill 22.

“They essentially showed complete disdain for the collective bargaining process and complete disrespect for contracts being signed,”  Henry said.

The back-to-work legislation was slated to pass Thursday, which will result in a six-month cooling off period, and appointment of a mediator to resolve the issue within the net-zero mandate.

Henry said he expects the action will become province-wide after the BC Teachers’ Federation holds its annual general meeting from March 17-20.

The new legislation, passed on March 15 suspends teachers’ strike action, establishes a “cooling off” period and appoints a mediator to work with the parties toward a negotiated agreement. All strike activity must cease when schools resume following spring break.

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