Local unions offer BCTF $8-million in interest free loans to continue teachers' strike

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COPE 378

Local unions in the province are adding their weight to the ongoing teachers’ labour dispute by providing the BC Teachers’ Federation with up to $8-million in interest-free loans.

Earlier today, a group of unions announced that they would be supporting the teachers by supporting the BCTF with interim funding.

The unions that are offering loans include the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), COPE 378, Hospital Employee’s Union (HEU), Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), United Steelworkers (USW), Unifor, Health Sciences Association (HSA) and the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.

One of the biggest contributors is the BCGEU with its interest-free loan of up to $3-million in addition to financial assistance fund of $7,500 that supports teachers in financial hardship. Other unions contributed smaller amounts, including the HSA’s commitment of a $170,000 interest-free loan.

“B.C.’s teachers are striking for quality public education. They are also striking for collective bargaining and the integrity of negotiated collective agreements,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “The teachers dispute is our dispute. Their fight is our fight.”

The BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU) is also providing the BCTF with a no-strings-attached gift of $500,000.

“I have heard from our members they want us to show support for teachers,” said BCNU president Gayle Duteil. “BCNU’s provincial council was unanimous in its desire to make a sizeable contribution. We believe this significant sum will help teachers stand strong against a government trying to bleed them dry.”

The BCTF’s monetary war chest has been depleted for weeks, meaning 40,000 teachers have been on the picket lines without any strike pay. The strike ended the school year two weeks early in June and is now in the second week of the new school year.

Throughout the day, teachers are casting their ballots in a vote to decide whether they support the use of third-party binding arbitration as the way to end the strike. However, the provincial government has repeatedly refused to use this avenue.

The results of the vote will be released tonight.

 

Feature Image: COPE 378

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