It was a cold and wet start for teachers who began striking outside Langley schools first thing Monday morning. Langley’s 1,500 teachers walked off the job and will continue demonstrating until Wednesday, after talks failed between B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government.
“Our army of elves are busily putting clear plastic over the signs and we’ve made a visit to the teachers with buckets of food,” said Langley Teachers’ Association president Gail Chaddock-Costello on Monday morning. Teachers are not picketing but demonstrating.
The LTA has rented three buses, able to seat 150 teachers, to attend the large rally planned at the legislature in Victoria on Tuesday. The BCTF and the B.C. Federation of Labour are holding the rally, which is expected to draw thousands of teachers from around B.C.
“It’s going to be a long day for our teachers, but it’s worth it,” said Chaddock-Costello.
Closer to home, the LTA will have teachers lining 200 Street with signs Wednesday morning before a large rally “in defense of public education” is planned outside the Langley Events Centre.
Teachers will not be demonstrating outside schools on Wednesday.
Speakers at the rally include Irene Lanzinger, who is current vice-president of the B.C. Federation of Labour and is former a BCTF president, and CUPE’s president Barry O’Neill. The LTA will be laying pink wreaths at MLA Rich Coleman’s office, located at the LEC.
The pink is to symbolize the bullying tactics the government is taking by trying to introduce Bill 22, said Chaddock-Costello.
The BC Liberal government introduced Bill 22, which would impose a cooling off period that would ban teachers from striking, and invoke hefty fines on individual teachers and the union.
House leader Coleman, MLA for Aldergrove-Fort Langley, said there is no need to rush the bill through.
Bill 22 introduces a mediator who is allowed to look at everything but salaries. The government insists that the new contract be a “net zero” one, with no added costs.
Schools are essentially closed during the teachers’ strike and thousands of parents in Langley struggled to find care for their children.
The Township, City and Langley Museum are offering day camps.