To say a dysfunctional relationship between two parents doesn’t affect the children would be an outrageous lie. The relationship between the BCTF and the province is very much the same and the effects are mostly felt by the students.
Like all school kids and their parents, the school support workers are innocent victims of the strike/lockout.
It’s another reason for the government to order a cooling-off period. Let’s get through the rest of the school year with no further disruptions, and then the BCTF and government should be forced to bargain in the summer with the help of a mediator.
Graduation and exams for British Columbia’s half-a-million public school students are in jeopardy as the teachers’ union threatens to launch a full-blown strike.
The BC Teachers’ Federation is asking the province’s more than 40,000 teachers to vote on escalating job action next Monday and Tuesday, with the potential for a full strike starting as early as June 16.
…All of which leaves intact the government’s strategy for dealing with the dispute, which would appear to rest on six considerations.
The first is that the teachers pay an economic price for any strike action, hence the 10-per-cent wage penalty.
The second is to avoid outright cancellation of graduation, exams, marking and report cards.
The third is to avoid, if at all possible, having to call back the legislature and impose yet another contract on teachers before the end of the school year.
The fourth is to leave the 12-year battle over Liberal-induced contract-stripping to the courts, where the latest iteration of the case is to be heard before the B.C. Court of Appeal this fall.
The fifth is not to be drawn into pointless talk about fixing a supposedly “broken” bargaining system. The current system has produced multiple settlements with other public-sector unions, including numerous agreements with school support workers represented by locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Plus, as master mediator Vince Ready said when he was asked to make recommendations on the bargaining system during an earlier showdown between government and teachers: “Unless both sides are committed to collective bargaining, the process will be fruitless no matter what system is adopted or legislated.”
The sixth fundamental for the Liberals is that the settlement with teachers not break the pattern of other settlements in the public sector, thereby risking a round of “me too” demands from other unions.
The latter is of particular concern because the nurses union has yet to settle in the current round. In one key respect, nurses have more bargaining leverage than teachers, there being a significant shortage of nurses and none of teachers, excepting some specialized categories like maths and sciences.
I’ve argued that the Liberals could and should offer a catch-up increase to teachers, recognizing that they are coming off two years of zeros while other public sector workers are coming off two years of increases in the 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent range.
But all signs suggest the Liberals are more likely to offer greater financial resources to address public concerns about class size and composition. Since the resources would go into the classroom rather than into higher wages and benefits, the government could go that route without having to match the increases dollar-for-dollar in other public sector talks.
As in the past, the government could bolster funding for the K-12 system by diverting the savings from the strike. Thus if teachers vote next week to step up their job action, they would also be contributing to the pool of money available to fund an eventual settlement of the dispute.