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BC Teachers defend education

Tara Ehrcke

March 1, 2012

As we go to press, BC teachers were considering strike action and high school students were planning walk outs in opposition to the government’s attack on education standards and union rights.

On February 28, Education Minister George Abbott introduced a bill, that if it is passed will impose a cooling off period until September. It seems that legislating an end to bargaining is only one objective.

The bill allows the Education minister to appoint a mediator who is required to meet the net-zero mandate, and is also require to reach agreement on many of the governments concessions. In addition to imposing a two year wage freeze, it also stops teachers from bargaining class size and staffing levels. It also introduces stiff penalties for illegal strike action of up to $475 per day for teachers, $2,500 per day for union officers and a minimum of $1.3 million per day from the union itself.

This is very scary indeed—perhaps a move à la Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin who made similar attacks on US teachers.

This bill is appalling. It is an affront to the right to free collective bargaining, the rights of employees to job security and due process rights, and the rights of children to a quality education in reasonable classroom conditions.

BC teachers have been without a contract since June, and have been conducting limited job action since September, refusing to meet with administrators, supervise playground activities or prepare report cards. A recent poll found that a majority of BC residents support the teachers, and say that job action has not damaged classroom performance.

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