Teachers in Canada's British Columbia (B.C.) province vowed Thursday to continue their rotating strikes next week, with every school district in the province closed for one day.
The teachers in B.C.'s all public schools are staging a rotating strike this week in protest of low pay and class size. The negotiations between the B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF) and the provincial government have failed to reach a deal so far. The B.C. government offers a 7.3-percent wage rise in six years while the teachers demand a hike of 13.7 percent in four years.
"B.C. teachers are committed to negotiating a fair and reasonable settlement at the bargaining table," said BCTF President Jim Iker on Thursday while announcing next week' s rotating strikes.
"That agreement, however, needs to include adequate funding to make improvements to important learning conditions, which are teachers' working conditions. It's time for B.C. Premier Christy Clark to free up the resources that will bring the two sides closer together and ensure students start the next school year with smaller classes, more support for children with special needs, and extra one-on-one time," Iker said in a statement.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark expressed disappointment at the prospect of more strikes on Thursday, saying that she hoped the parties would get to the negotiating table and bargain hard until they get an agreement.
B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender told reporters at the legislature Wednesday that he was "profoundly disappointed that while we' re still at the table, with all of the talk that's been going on, that children and parents and communities are continuing to be held hostage and put in the middle of this dispute."
More than 41,000 teachers in British Columbia started their rotating strikes Monday, demanding higher pay and smaller classes. It is estimated that half a million students will be affected.