News Views: A fair settlement

Students across B.C. are about to get a five-day weekend.

Teachers voted 87 per cent on Wednesday in favour of a three-day strike, starting Monday, in advance of the provincial government approving Bill 22, which would make such an action illegal.

The provincial government introduced the bill earlier this past week, just hours after the Labour Relations Board ruled that teachers could take part in a three-day walkout, if they gave parents two-days notice.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district is advising all students to stay home. Schools will remain open. Teachers will not form picket lines.

They have been without a contract since June.

They are asking for a 15 per cent pay raise over three years, as well as a say in class sizes and composition.

The province has offered them, essentially, nothing, just a mediator, but only to discuss certain issues – pay is not one of them, nor is class size, nor composition.

In the meantime, teachers will be legislated back to work, again, just as under the Liberals in 2005 and 2001, and before that under an NDP government.

Since the Liberals passed essential services legislation in 2001, the provincial government no longer has to bargain with teachers in good faith. Teachers can’t strike without being fined heavily, so nothing gets resolved, and small things, like report cards and coaches for school teams, get taken away.

It’s the only leg teachers have to stand on, which is not only unfair to them, but to students.

What’s needed is a true mediated settlement, one with every issue on the table, as occurred in 2005 with Vince Ready. A third party has to be brought in, to negotiate a fair agreement. That doesn’t mean a big pay raise for teachers, nor a say in class composition, necessarily. Just that someone without a stake in the process will decide, so students don’t get stuck in the middle any longer.

Have a nice weekend.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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