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B.C. Teachers issue 72-hour strike notice in effort to speed up bargaining with Liberal government

It’s back to school Tuesday for students across the province.

But the school term may be a lot shorter than the normal 10 months if B.C. teachers stand firm on job action after the provincial body served 72-hour strike notice for Sept. 6.

The B.C. Teachers Federation said Wednesday during a press conference it would abandon administrative duties like filling out report cards, supervising playgrounds or meeting with principals – unless an agreement is reached with the province.

“Phase one of the job action is a “teach only” phase,” BCTF president Susan Lambert told media.

“Teachers will be fully committed to teaching but they will not be performing administrative and bureaucratic tasks.”

However, Lambert said the BCTF won't rule an all-out strike, but added that's not something teachers want.

“We need this government to know we are serious . . . that this round of bargaining will address the needs of students in this province,” Lambert said.

If teachers do follow through with job action, Education Minister George Abbott said he would consider legislating teachers back to work.

“Obviously the BCTF has made it clear in recent months that they’re dissatisfied with progress at the bargaining table,” Abbot said.

“Overall concern is of course that every child goes to school has a good learning environment.”

The BCTF says its members need a good pay increase to catch up with teachers in provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, where salaries are much higher.

Other demands by the BCTF include 26 weeks (half year) paid leave to care for someone (being a family member is not a requirement); a year's pay as a “bonus” for retiring veteran teachers; two weeks paid leave upon the death of any friend; five paid days per year for professional activities; and two sick days a month that can be saved up.

The two sides met for another round of negotiations Wednesday.