Pique n' your interest 

Essential circuses

Page 2 of 3

The unions appear to know this, and always seem to call for strikes during the most inconvenient times possible. Parents, worried about what might be at stake for their children, then plead with the government to end the strike.

The unions are accused of holding the students hostage in the negotiations, and I’ve yet to hear a suitable rebuttal to this allegation.

Is there any reason that the collective bargaining process can’t take place during the summer? I know it’s prime vacation time for teachers, but if the unions and federations are sincere in their desire to teach, summer negotiations would be a good way to show it.

Right now B.C. teachers don’t have a contract – and when do negotiations start? On Aug. 28, less than a week before the kids head back to school.

"With a stroke of the pen, the provincial government has undermined labour rights that are protected in international law and held as standards worldwide," said BCTF president David Chudnovsky.

Front and centre in these negotiations will be the reinstatement of education as an essential service under the Labour Code, and the government’s attempt to get some flexibility in classroom sizes.

Classroom sizes were limited to just 20 kids in Kindergarten, and to 22 kids in Grades 1 through 3 in the province to allow teachers to spend more time with each student in these critical years. Unfortunately human reproduction isn’t guided by any such principles, and some years there are just more kids than others. Rather than allow flexibility, school boards have been put in a position where they’ve had to bus students up to an hour away to find room for them – keeping even one extra student at the neighbourhood school would mean hiring another teacher and finding a classroom.

The City of North Vancouver estimates that classroom limits cost them an additional $4.7 million last year. In the province, it also added 700 teachers to the payroll, and added an estimated $75 million in costs to the budget.

The timing of the negotiations couldn’t be worse. Without a contract, even with the changes to the Labour Code, teachers are free to walk off the job at any time this fall – no contract means no obligations. In the last contract, there were no salary increases above and beyond two per cent in 2000, so the government is also concerned that salary will be an issue in the next round.

The BCTF will be negotiating from a position of strength, but against a government that faces a $5 billion loss unless it can get public spending under wraps and increase corporate investment in the province. Neither party can really afford to back down.

Readers also liked…

Latest in Whistler

© 1994-2019 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation