Houston public school teachers have joined a province-wide strike to demand better pay as well as guarantees on class size and help for special-needs students.
Holding signs that read “Teachers taking a stand,” a group of teachers gathered at Highway 16 and Mountain to bring attention to their cause.
“We’ve had lots of logging-truck drivers honking horns and people waving,” said David Conway, a teacher at Twain Sullivan Elementary. “The support is exceeding expectations, to use teacher-ese,” he added with a laugh.
Many of the teachers who joined the Houston protest live in Smithers, Conway said, and chose to make the drive out and protest in the community where they work.
Across the province, 41,000 teachers are expected to be on strike until Thursday. Although Houston schools are being kept open by school administrators, there is no bus service and no classes are in session.
The B.C. government has tabled legislation that would end the strike, but it is not yet clear exactly when it will pass into law.
Education Minister George Abbott has said that wage increases are the main sticking point in the negotiations with teachers, which have been ongoing since the teachers contract expired in June.
Teachers have asked for a 15 per cent wage increase over three years, a demand that the province has said is impossible given a large provincial deficit and a “net zero” wage freeze among all other public employees.
With files from Tom Fletcher