Teachers in the British Columbia (BC) province of Canada are to begin job action on Wednesday of next week in their long running dispute with the state government. Teachers in the province voted 89% in favour of strike action in March against the government's failure to fund education properly. Since that time, there has been no movement from the employers, with zero pay increases for two years still on the table and no concessions on class size and staffing levels.

The intransigence of the government is despite the fact that BC has the highest average proportion of students per class with special needs,in the whole of Canada, and that earlier attempts to prevent the union from negotiating on class size and composition were ruled illegal by the courts. Earlier this year the courts also ruled that the government's attempts to tie teachers to a ten year contract and severely limit their rights to take industrial action were also unconstitutional. In the view of the courts, the government was pursuing a political strategy of trying to provoke a strike, in order to win public support for their 'reform' moves, moves, which in the opinion of BC teachers would further damage education, particularly for children with special needs.

Since the government first attempted to deregulate staffing levels in 2002, thousands of teachers have lost their jobs and 200+ schools have closed. The British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) is starting the job action with a refusal to undertake out of class activities such as lunch time supervision and administrative duties, however they say that if there is no movement from the government this can be escalated. To read more detailed background of the dispute, go to this post from Toby Steeves of the BCTF.