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Loyalist school teachers strike over pay

Teachers from the Vancouver campus of Loyalist Group owned school, PGIC, have been on strike since last Wednesday after negotiations over wages hit an impasse.

Teachers at PGIC have been on strike since 8am Wednesday. Photo: Support PGIC Teachers Facebook page

The school currently has around 350-400 students enrolled, with this season being their busiest time of the year

Teachers at PGIC are rallying against a 30% wage cut they saw after PGIC, which has campuses in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto, was bought by Loyalist Group four years ago.

“We reached an impasse, and our next step then was to serve a 72-hour strike notice”

They are also challenging a 15-year wage grid, which would see wages increase by just $4 an hour over 10 years– to $24 an hour – and then would require an additional five years for them to reach the top salary of $35,000 a year.

Dianne Simmons, who has been an instructor at the school in Vancouver for 16 years, said that the teaching body want to go back to the bargaining table with Loyalist Group after negotiations over their pay grid reached a stalemate.

“They did not have anything new to offer us,” she told The PIE News.

“It was the same six-step 15-year wage grid proposal. So at that point, we reached an impasse, and our next step then was to serve a 72-hour strike notice because we were too far apart in bargaining for anything else.”

The school currently has around 350-400 students enrolled, with this season being their busiest time of the year.

With no indication as to when operations will resume as normal, Simmons says she has little knowledge of how Loyalist Group are managing the students affected.

“The only thing we know for sure is that they’ve emailed the student body, and let them know that when classes resume, they will email them so that they can come back,” she said.

Other troubles have also come to light this month for Loyalist Group, after their recently released annual financial statements showed a loss of CAN$19.5m last year.

Four of the company’s leaders have been replaced in the last month.

Former CEO, Andrew Ryu, who was one senior member who recently resigned from his post, had made many acquisitions in a short space of time, including two South Korean agencies.

However, Simmons confirmed that she wasn’t too concerned about the company’s fast pace of growth.

“We’ve always been a profitable school so we didn’t really pay attention to what was happening with everything else,” she said.

“We were just focusing on our own business and bringing in students.”

Simmons also confirmed that the wage negotiations have been ongoing and began before news surfaced that the company is hoping to make a forebearance agreement by the end of June.

“We’ve been reading all the news releases the new CEO has put out, saying that they have plans in place to turn things around,” Simmons added.

“I guess we have to have faith that they know what they’re doing in managing the company.”

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6 Responses to Loyalist school teachers strike over pay

  1. The sad fact is that most ESL international schools pay crap. It is unfortunate and awful but that is the industry. People should absolutely be fighting for better conditions but I don’t see how going after a company that is on its last legs and has no respect for its employees is going to solve anything sadly. The whole ESL industry needs to be overhauled -some schools, even with the same union, start at $19/hour. It would be nice to think that this strike will solve things. But at this point, if the conditions are so bad (and they seem to be) teachers should be leaving in droves. Why aren’t they? Because ‘senior’ teachers are still making a decent wage that they know they won’t get anywhere else. I am not sure what is keeping the newer teachers, who are making $19, at the school. If all of the ESL school where teachers made a crappy wage – had teachers walking out en masse, then something might change. Otherwise, PGIC is just spinning its wheels in my opinion. The real rub is that some of these teachers who are on strike actually sold the school to Loyalist. Horribly, the ESL industry is dying in Vancouver – the 8 million in funding pulled from VCC last year should have been a big enough clue.

  2. What is not being mentioned is that some of these ESL teachers sold the school to Loyalist in 2011. Also that \senior’ teachers make a good wage and they don’t want to lose that as they know that there are no jobs anywhere else. Bit of a different spin on things.

    • Ken, you own VEC, yes? The school that unionized recently.due to wretched pay wretched conditions and eye.scanners for teachers? Of course admin still has to have them. Striking for better conditions must be scary for you.

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