Province brings only threats to table

I wanted to inform your readers about the current state of bargaining in the labour dispute between the teachers

Dear editor:

I wanted to inform your readers about the current state of bargaining in the labour dispute between the teachers of B.C. and the (provincial) government, especially about the employer’s response to our Phase 1 job action.

The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation office received a phone call late last week asking about a B.C. Public School Employers’ Association — the employer’s bargaining agent — document that had been leaked to (the press).

The document outlined some possible actions the employer could take to put pressure on teachers as a result of our refusal to do many of the administrative duties downloaded to us over the years.

Three options were considered:

• force teachers or the union to pay for health care benefits;

• reduce teachers’ pay in accordance with what we are not doing;

• lockout for a portion of each day.

It is interesting to see these options being presented by an employer who steadfastly refuses to bring anything to the table to negotiate.

Instead, they have brought language that would completely dismantle the collect(ive) agreements we have negotiated over the past 30 years or so.

Many trustees from around the province have been completely blindsided by this turn of events, even though BCPSEA is their bargaining agent.

Most of those trustees have also commented that they don’t agree with the options presented.

All three of the options would do more harm to the education system than the current withdrawal of some services by teachers.

I am wondering how the employer could suggest locking the doors of schools is less harmful to our students’ education than teachers not doing recess supervision or giving mandated tests.

The BCPSEA document also suggested another reason for these options was the teachers’ withdrawal of extracurricular activities.

It shows how out of touch BCPSEA is, as teachers have not withdrawn from doing these activities.

In fact, teachers are spending more time working with our students than ever before.

Our province’s mainstream media has only presented your readers with one side of a complex story.

It’s time the other side was heard!

Shawn Gough

Teacher at Sunset School

Local representative to the BCTF