The sequence of events in the BC government’s proposed lockout of teachers is important.
The lockout fiasco began with the employer putting school boards on notice that teachers would be locked out of all activities that didn’t fall between 45 minutes before classes begin and 45 minutes after they end. Furthermore, teachers weren’t to do any work during student lunch hours, or outside of school hours.
Presumably the rationale behind this is to justify the employer’s reducing teacher wages by 5% (10% if they strike).
Teachers immediately began asking questions:
How could they run grad (Grad committees are typically run by teachers – not parents and administrators)? Dry grad and other grad activities are supervised by teachers.
When will they do their marking? The notice included activities related to teaching even when not on campus.
How will they supervise government exams? – Government exams run into the normal lunch hour, and outside of the 45 minute mandate.
How will they teach academy classes that fall outside the normal timetable?
What will happen to all-day and overnight field trips?
Can they still run drama productions?
How will they complete report cards if they are locked out of “evaluating education programs”?
How will they mark government exams if they are locked out completely on the day after the exam?
Clearly, the employer had not thought this through. Some of these issues were brought up during press conferences and on social media. The employer hastily scrambled to amend the lockout notice. The back-pedalling was almost comical.
So everyone is locked out with the following EXCEPTIONS
People who are running all-day or overnight field trips.
People who are attending grad (still not sure if teachers are allowed to speak at or attend/supervise grad-related activities like grad dinner or dry grad.).
People running extracurricular programs.
Elementary teachers who still have students in classrooms while high school teachers do not. (To be fair, this idea was part of the initial notice, but unions don’t understand a lockout of only some of their employees and not others.)
Teachers will still be required to mark government exams.
Teacher must still do all duties related to teaching – grading, lesson preparation etc. even though this will fall outside of the lockout time.
This all begs a question. What exactly are teachers locked out of? My own thinking is that if you lock out employees, you close down the work place and dock their pay.
All of this points to a few facts:
1. The employer does not understand what its own employees do. It failed to anticipate the consequences of locking out teachers, and has had to “unlock” them out.
2. The employer does NOT understand labour law and unionism. It believes that it can lock out employees without affecting the output of the employees.
3. The employer is incompetent. Any corporation that has this much disconnect between itself and its employees wouldn’t last a year.
4. THERE IS NO REAL LOCKOUT
P.S. The government has been scrambling to clarify their position on the lockout through Q and A sheets. However, the only official pronouncement to the BCTF has been the original lockout notice, which contained no clarifications. In other words, the government is not providing a clear directive to the BCTF.
By this, they hope to cause confusion through mixed interpretation among BCTF members. However, teachers tend to be a pretty open-minded and tolerant lot (necessary to the job). A tactic like this may cause confusion, but it won’t break solidarity. In fact, any angst among teachers tends to be blamed on the government’s 12 year policy of goading and underfunding.