Nelson students join picket lines in support of better education
Nelson and District Teachers picketing during the second round of BC Teachers’ Federation rotating strike schedule Thursday received support from an unlikely source when approximately 40 students joined the lines.
“We did some research and decided that teachers wanting smaller class sizes and the highest level of education to be public, the teachers were in fact standing up more for us (students) more than government so we thought the way to show support would be to walk with them,” L.V. Rogers Grade 11 student Dunavan Janzen-Morris told The Nelson Daily Thursday.
Thursday’s walk out was part of the second round of the BCTF rotating strike schedule.
Teachers were joined by CUPE Local 748 support staff on picket lines in front of schools and maintenance yards throughout Kootenay Lake School District.
The BCTF hoped the recent round of rotating strikes would put pressure on the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, the bargaining arm for the provincial government, in negotiations. Sticking points in the dispute continue to be pay, class size and classroom support.
However, a Wednesday ruling by the Labour Board against the teachers has the government believing they are winning the dispute.
But Thursday, Janzen-Morris and a group of students joined the teachers on the picket lines at LVR before the parading to the more visible Nelson Avenue location in front of Hume Elementary School.
“We came to school wanting public education and Thursday, when teachers were striking, we decided to walk with them because we stand for the same things they stand for,” Janzen-Morris said, who felt the province-wide student walkout on Wednesday was counterintuitive.
“Hopefully the word gets out that students really care,” Janzen-Morris added.
“We’re not happy with the strike just to miss school. We have final exams coming up so we want attend school. And if our best bet is to stand by the teachers, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Friday is the final day of rotating strikes by the BCTF in the province.
Teachers vote on the possibility of launching a full-scale walkout during a province-wide ballot Monday (June 9) and Tuesday (June 10).
BCTF president Jim Iker said the second province-wide vote is needed to demonstrate to government and the employer that teachers are determined to achieve gains on salary, class size and composition, and support for students with special needs.
Earlier this week, the union announced it was reducing its wage proposal from a 15.9 per cent increase over four years to roughly 14 per cent over four years.
However, the proposal still includes increases for the cost of living.
The government is offering 7.25 per cent over six years plus $1,200 signing bonus.