Students rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Photo credit: Harjap Grewal
CBC reports, “Thousands of high school students across B.C. walked out of classes on Friday afternoon to make their voices heard in the prolonged teachers’ dispute with the province. Outside the downtown Vancouver Art Gallery, students took turns speaking into a megaphone and chanting.”
“After six months of job action and fruitless contract negotiations, B.C.’s 41,000 teachers announced plans for a three-day strike, starting on Monday. Windermere Secondary School student organizer Navi Rai says students are tired of being caught in the middle of the contract dispute, and more than 17,000 signed up on a Facebook page to walk out in protest at 2 p.m. PT.”
“The B.C. government has introduced legislation to force the teachers back to work, but it could be a week or more before it is passed. Under a recent Labour Relations Board ruling teachers will be legally able to strike three days the first week, then one day per week until the back-to-work legislation is passed.”
News1130 adds, “Negotiate, don’t legislate. That was the central message from hundreds of students as they rallied in Downtown Vancouver Friday afternoon in support of BC teachers as they prepare to begin a three-day strike starting Monday and the government debates back-to-work legislation. Carrying signs saying ‘We Support the Teachers’ and ‘Special needs students need a fair deal’, students gathered on the steps of the Art Gallery to demand smaller class sizes and a negotiated deal for teachers.”
“(After rallying at the Vancouver Art Gallery) students then marched down Hornby and Howe Streets to the government’s cabinet offices on the waterfront beside the Pan Pacific Hotel. Several Vancouver Police officers stood in front of the office doors as speakers implored students to flood Premier Christy Clark’s office with calls.”
The Vancouver chapter of the Council of Canadians helped to spread the word and BC-Yukon organizer Harjap Grewal was present at the protest in Vancouver. Last December, Grewal spoke on climate change at Windermere Secondary School, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12583, whose student organizers were key to this protest.
The Council of Canadians will hold its next annual general meeting in Nanaimo, British Columbia on October 26-28, 2012.