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Maple Ridge teachers withdraw student supervision

Maple Ridge Teachers Association president George Serra said Stage 1 of their job action is geared to impact  management, with little impact on students and parents. - The News/Files
Maple Ridge Teachers Association president George Serra said Stage 1 of their job action is geared to impact management, with little impact on students and parents.
— image credit: The News/Files

Parents in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district are being asked to pick up and drop off their children as close to the beginning and end of the school day as possible, as teacher job action creates supervision challenges for administrative staff.

Teachers supervising children is considered non-essential by the Labor Relations Board. As the B.C. Teachers’ Federation begins job action begins today across the province, it’s a service teachers have withdrawn.

“I want to reassure you that student safety will not be compromised,” says a letter to parents that was sent home with students on Tuesday.

It was signed by acting superintendent Laurie Meston, who went on to explain that administrative and management personnel will assume responsibility for supervision at recess and after school bus pick-up. Noon-hour supervisors and school administrators will continue to provide lunch-hour supervision.

Teachers will also not meet with management, nor participate in written or electronic communications with them.

They will still participate in sports teams and clubs.

“It’s geared to making a bit on an impact on management,” said George Serra, president of the Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association.

He added that, in 2011, the union was in Stage 1 of job action for seven months, and the impact on parents and students was not dramatic.

He also did not disagree that the job action was ineffective at putting pressure on government.

Phase 2 of job action would be rotating strikes, one day per week, rotating across the province, with a different region striking every day.

“Parents will start having issues,” predicted Serra.

When that would happen depends on how the union views progress in bargaining.

“I would be surprised if Stage 1 gets dragged out that long [seven months],” said Serra.

“Every day we wake up hopeful that something positive will happen.

BCTF president Jim Iker noted 89 per cent of BCTF members approved job action on March 6. Six weeks later, the government negotiators have not moved off their “unfair positions” that include a 10-year term and salary proposals with “two more years of zeros.”

Education Minister Peter Fassbender called the job action “a little disappointing, but not at all surprising.”

He has accused the union of being more focused on job action than bargaining, and said it will not move off an opening position asking for a 13.5 per cent salary increase over three years.

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