The B.C. Liberal government introduced legislation Tuesday that imposes a six-month cooling off period, suspends teachers' ability to legally strike and calls for a mediator to bring about a negotiated agreement.
It's not clear when the bill is expected to pass, which opens up the possibility of a three-day legal teachers strike as early as Monday.
Once it's law, Bill 22 or the Education Improvement Act, will make it illegal for teachers to walk off the job and to continue current job action, including the refusal to issue report cards.
Jeff Dunton, president of the Abbotsford District Teachers' Association, said members of the B.C. Teachers' Federation are upset.
"They call it a cooling off period, but I don't know how cool we'll be," he said.
The mediator has strict guidelines that will impose a net zero mandate for wages, a new evaluation system and control of teachers' professional development, Dunton added. The bill also contains language that would allow principals to hire or fire teachers without taking seniority into account, he said.
"Also if a principal doesn't like you personally you could find yourself laid off," Dunton said.
Teachers undertook a strike vote earlier this week and results are due out today.
"All the feedback I have is that we'll have a very strong yes vote and be in a legal position to strike by Monday."
But that's only if Bill 22 isn't passed first, he added. Each individual teacher who strikes once the bill is law could face a penalty of up to $475 per day and the BCTF faces a penalty of at least $1.3 million per day.
"It's draconian," said Dunton.