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Teachers ponder whether to picket

With teachers in other parts of the province organizing summer pickets, the North Okanagan Shuswap Teachers Association has not yet made a decision on whether there will be summer pickets in the Shuswap. - Observer file photo
With teachers in other parts of the province organizing summer pickets, the North Okanagan Shuswap Teachers Association has not yet made a decision on whether there will be summer pickets in the Shuswap.
— image credit: Observer file photo

By Chelsea Grainger and Richard Rolke

Members of the North Okanagan Shuswap Teachers Organization aren’t planning any picket lines yet, but they are looking at their options.

NOSTA President Brenda O’Dell says there’s no definite plans set in place regarding when pickets will be going up this summer.

“We haven’t formalized anything yet, but we’re looking into our options,” said O’Dell.

It’s a different story in Vernon, as members of the Vernon Teachers Association have planned pickets for the summer.

Members of the Vernon Teachers Association picketed in front of W.L. Seaton Secondary Wednesday from 7 to 9:30 a.m. and such rallies will occur at various locations every Wednesday during the summer.

“We want to maintain our visibility and remind people that a fair settlement hasn’t been reached yet,” said Heather Malcolm, VTA president.

Malcolm hopes parents and students will attend the picket sessions, but she isn’t sure how many teachers will show up over the summer holidays.

“It will be interesting to see how many come out to join us.”

A court justice recently decided not to conduct mediation between the teachers and the government because he said both sides were too far apart in demands.

However, Malcolm says discussions are necessary so classes can resume in September.

“The government is coming with predetermined conditions and that’s not negotiating. If they come to the table, I believe we can negotiate,” she said.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, defends the position his government has taken with the teachers.

“We are at the table and I keep hoping everyone comes to a resolution,” he said.

However, Foster insists that teachers must lower their demands for wages and changes to class size.

“It has to fall within our (budget) mandate and what we’ve given other public-sector workers,” he said.

 

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