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More conflict in the cards for teachers, school boards

Apr 10 2012

Lower Island school districts are bracing for more conflict with teachers after serving notice that report cards for all grades are due by the end of the month.

The Sooke, Saanich and Greater Victoria school districts issued instructions to principals late last week to get teachers working on the reports.

Few expect it will be that easy. The B.C. Teachers' Federation made clear last month that its members will not complete report cards that were missed during legal job action.

"It's a very basic principle that you don't make up struck work," union president Susan Lambert said. "Otherwise, why would you go on strike?"

The province's 41,000 teachers, who are without a contract, began the school year by refusing to write report cards or meet with administrators.

The School Act requires three formal report cards a year. The first was sent in December without grades. The second, due last month for most middle and elementary schools, was never issued. The B.C. government, however, recently sent all districts a letter, instructing them to issue detailed reports now that the government has passed legislation and forced an end to the job action.

Saanich board chairman Wayne Hunter said he fully expects the issue will end up before the Labour Relations Board.

"We quite imagine that the teachers' association will tell our teachers not to complete the reports at this time," Hunter said. "Then I quite imagine that our next step would be, like other districts, just to send it to the LRB."

Greater Victoria board chairwoman Peg Orcherton agreed. "We're not going to engage in anything," she said. "If anything negative happens, we'll report it and [the B.C. Public School Employers' Association] will deal with it."

The association has stated that it disagrees with the union's position on "struck work," arguing that teachers were required during the job action to continue assessing, evaluating and marking students.

"Simply put, when a strike is over, employees are required to resume normal duties and there is no recognized exemption for work that may have accumulated during the strike," the association states in a bulletin on its website.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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