EDITORIAL: Another year, another dispute

The start of the school year is becoming synonymous with labour disputes in B.C.

With all the busyness of the summer months now over, September is a great time to fall back into a routine. And the provincial government and unions representing teachers and school support staff appear to have their annual routines down pat by now.

September, especially since their labour disputes seem to be never-ending in recent years, is when both sides of the bargaining table argue that the other party is unco-operative and doesn’t truly have students’ interests at heart.

This annual back-and-forth of finger-pointing just tells us neither side truly believes it’s all about the children. Accusatory bargaining in a public forum does nothing to help the situation we’re faced with, a situation where the kids truly should be the priority.

We agree with both sides when they say a deal needs to be reached soon. We agree when they both say that deal has to happen without disrupting students in the classroom. And we agree that education is essential to our kids’ futures, and is essential in growing our economy.

But we can’t be teaching our kids to play nice and do good when we aren’t walking the talk ourselves.

It’s the worst-kept secret that labour relations of any kind – essential service or not – are self-serving to some extent. The province and the teachers both need to quit pretending that they’re only fighting for the kids. They need to honestly acknowledge their differences and what they’re fighting for, and find a compromise that isn’t going to negatively impact the goings on in the classroom.

Back-to-school season should be a happy, positive experience for everyone. That hasn’t been the case for many years now, and we need to get resolutions soon for the teachers’ and support staff’s contracts. Otherwise, we’re going to have yet another negative school year that could be severely impacted by two massive labour disputes.

Let’s do this for the kids.

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