Public education threatened by labour dispute

BC Teachers' Federation, BC Public School Employers Association bargaining comes to halt, threat of lockout or docked pay looms

When the normal collective bargaining process is allowed and a free negotiating process between the parties occurs, the end result is a workplace arrangement that benefits the employer, the workers and the public.

Normal is certainly not a word that comes to mind when considering the current labour climate in our public education system. How did we get to this circumstance? And what is really going on here?

The B.C. Public School Employers Association is a tool of the provincial government, and the education minister and government say there will be no funding increases for those in public education. Secondly, by way of this “zero” mandate, teachers are frustrated from negotiating on behalf of their members and are taking their fight against “zero” to BCPSEA and to local school boards.

As BCPSEA, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, school boards and local teachers’ associations continue in this recipe for failure, where is the architect of this debacle, the education minister? Moreover where has the minister been, as the Greater Victoria board of education trustees along with other B.C. school boards presented numerous needs budgets that clearly showed that changes in funding formulas and increases in funding – per se – for public education was urgently required. The minister and the government have ignored responsibility here by using BCPSEA as a shill for their avoidance of responsibility in properly funding our public education system and by now attempting to pit the public against educators.

So here we are, teachers have withdrawn non-essential services, BCPSEA is considering strategies to pass along to school boards on how best to visit grief upon teachers by not paying benefits, reducing pay, or locking out teachers. I am one trustee who will not be part of these divisive actions.

The focus for us all needs to be on the provincial government and a message needs to be sent that this wrongheaded mandate is threatening to undermine the integrity and viability of our B.C. public education system.

We have a great public education system in B.C. It needs to be properly funded; public education needs to be universally accessible for each child. Public educators need our support, not manipulation.

Peg Orcherton

trustee, Greater Victoria board of education

Peg Orcherton is seeking re-election in the Nov. 19 school board elections.