The labour dispute between B.C. teachers and the provincial government is getting ugly.
This week, the Liberals introduced legislation (Bill 12) that imposes the teachers' expired contract until the spring. As Coast Reporter went to press Thursday night, Bill 12 was in the process of being passed in the legislature in Victoria.
In response to the government's action, teachers voted over 90 per cent in favour to walk off the job.
Starting today (Friday) picket lines should be up at schools here on the Coast and around the province.
Teachers are fed up with being treated unfairly. B.C.'s 42,000 teachers have been without a contact since June of last year. There have been 30 negotiating sessions and neither the teachers nor the provincial government has been able to find common ground. Teachers want a fair and reasonable wage increase and to discuss class-size limits, teacher-librarians and learning assistants.
We're amazed that the situation has escalated to this point.
Both sides seem like they are well educated, so why can't they get back to the table and negotiate a deal?
This is a game of chicken, it seems, with both sides waiting to see who blinks first.
If the government really wanted a resolution and face-to-face negotiations weren't an option, they would have included an arbitrated settlement. Trying to impose dictated legislation won't bring stability to our education system. It clearly doesn't make teachers happy either, which is evident by the steps they are now taking.
The only solution now is to get arbitration by a third party trusted by both sides and get a deal done.
It's a sad time in this province - a sad time for parents who now have to scramble to find adequate daycare for their children, a sad time for students who will miss valuable education time in the classroom, a sad game where no one is winning.