News Views: What a deal

If teachers do not ratify the deal – for two years, retroactive to June 2011 – one will likely be imposed on them.

B.C. teachers and the Liberal government have reached a tentative deal on a contract.

But if ratified today, the new deal would expire in March.

Teachers have been without one for a year, during which they refused to fill out report cards and withdrew from extracurricular activities.

Basically, with the mediated contract, teachers conceded everything but modest gains in benefits and language for another kick at negotiations with the next government, which they are betting will be the New Democrat Party.

An Ipsos Reid poll released June 14 indicates support for the provincial NDP at 48 per cent, while the Liberals were at 29 per cent, and Conservatives at 16.

If teachers do not ratify the deal – for two years, retroactive to June 2011 – one will likely be imposed on them.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the proposed contract will bring peace of mind to students and parents.

In it, the Liberals did not relinquish control of class sizes or composition, and also stuck to their net-zero  mandate, which calls for a public sector wage freeze. That also expires in 2013.

The NDP can campaign on promises to stray from such practice, but meeting wage demands not just from teachers, but other public sector unions in the future would seem onerous given the $900-million budget deficit this year.

So the Liberals, in reaching this deal, look fiscally responsible, while shifting unreal expectations onto the NDP, if elected, and teachers.

Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president George Serra has already conceded that the NDP would have a difficult time negotiating a new contract with teachers while trying to balance the budget. “But if we want to maintain a world-class public education system,” he says, “we’re going to have to pay for it.”

So put it on taxpayers. That’s politics.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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