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Teachers opt to withdraw extracurricular service 0

STEPHANIE IP, 24 HOURS

Almost two-thirds of B.C. teachers have voted in favor of a province-wide extracurricular service withdrawal, the B.C. Teachers' Federation announced Friday morning. That means activities such as after-school sports, fundraisers and grad events could soon be gone.

In what BCTF president Susan Lambert called an "emotional" vote, 73% of teachers spoke up in support of pursuing action to protest Bill 22, legislated last month. Some 21,625 teachers voted yes while 7,846 voted no. The BCTF has 41,000 members across the province, meaning only about half of working teachers voted in favour of the action plan.

"This vote sends a powerful message to government that they must rethink Bill 22, listen to the concerns of teachers, respect our rights and invest in services to education," Lambert said. "Teacher struggle with this because these activities bring so much joy to our engagement with students. We know this will mean the loss of some highly valued activities and we sincerely regret that.

"But we have to look at the bigger picture and the longer term."

The BCTF's action plan, drafted last month at their four-day annual general meeting, includes the launch of a public awareness campaign, the withdrawal of extracurricular services, and the option of pursuing a full-scale service strike in the future.

Meanwhile, the BCTF is still awaiting the decision of the Labour Relations Board after it applied earlier this month to oust Dr. Charles Jago as mediator. In media interviews, Jago had admitted he lacked the necessary experience for the role, and teachers have raised concerns over past links to Liberal government and possible involvement in drafting Bill 22.


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