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British Columbia In Bill 22 protest, B.C. teachers vote to quit all voluntary duties

British Columbia Teachers' Federation President Susan Lambert on Thursday March 1, 2012.

Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail/darryl dyck The Globe and Mail

Almost three-quarters of B.C. teachers have voted to continue a battle against provincial legislation that stripped them of the right to strike and imposed a mediator in their bitter contract dispute.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation says its members have voted 73 per cent in favour of a protest that includes withdrawal of voluntary extracurricular activities such as coaching sports teams or taking part in graduation ceremonies.

BCTF president Susan Lambert says the vote sends a powerful message to the government to rethink Bill 22, passed last month.

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She says it is the twentieth bill passed by the B.C. Liberals targeting teachers' professional and labour rights, and her members believe it is time to take a firm stand.

The vote supporting the BCTF resistance strategy also creates the possibility of a future vote on a full withdrawal of services, although Bill 22 sets punitive penalties for any walkout by teachers.

B.C.'s 41,000 public school teachers have been without a contract since last June and staged a three-day strike in March to back demands for 15-per cent wage hike but the government is refusing to budge from its so-called net-zero mandate, which prohibits increases for all public-sector unions.

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