The B.C. Supreme Court has issued an order prohibiting the B.C. Teachers’ Federation from using its assets to facilitate the ongoing illegal strike by the province’s public school teachers.
The order was issued yesterday, October 13, after the Court heard submissions from the parties concerning the appropriate penalty for the teachers’ ongoing job action, which was previously found to be in contempt of court. (The Court’s preceding orders are summarized in earlier entries on Harris & Company’s “Legal News” section.)
The Court declined to impose fines for contempt of court at this time, but noted that fines may be appropriate at a later date. However, the Court did find that the BCTF is using its assets to facilitate the continuing breach of the court order, in part by paying teachers $50 per day to participate in the illegal strike.
Accordingly, the Court issued a decision prohibiting the BCTF from directly or indirectly using its assets to facilitate further breach of the court order. The BCTF may not pay its members “strike pay” or otherwise compensate, or promise to compensate, its members for their participation in activities in breach of the order. The BCTF is also prohibited from using its books, records and offices to permit third parties to facilitate continuing breach of the court order. The BCTF may only use its assets in the ordinary course of business, which includes such things as paying rent, wages to its employees, legal fees and other expenses it would normally incur.
The Court also appointed a monitor to ensure this latest order is obeyed. The Court provided the monitor with powers and duties to ensure compliance, including:
- access to all books and records of the BCTF, including all bank accounts of the BCTF and related entities;
- reviewing, on a daily basis, all payments made by the BCTF and related entities;
- immediately reporting to the Court any payment or other activity which the monitor considers to be in breach of this order; and
- reporting to the Court as requested with respect to the financial position of the BCTF and its compliance with this order;
The monitor may also appoint legal counsel as required and obtain such assistance as the monitor considers necessary. The BCTF will pay the monitor’s remuneration, costs and expenses.
The Court did not rule out the imposition of fines at a later date. However, it is anticipated that the determination of the issue of such sanctions will depend largely on the reaction of the BCTF and its members to this decision and whether or not job action continues in breach of the court order.
(Click here for copy of full judgment)