By Beth Miller
Published: Feb. 18, 2012
As far as student strike is concerned, we are still where we are were in September. Teachers are doing their best to make sure students and parents are effected as little as possible by the job action.
We are still teaching, planning, marking, and making sure that students and parents are kept informed of student progress.
Teachers have reduced various administrative tasks. For example, we are not attending staff meetings with school and district management, not completing certain paperwork, we have reduced supervision, and we are not completing report cards (except as necessary for grade 12 students who need marks for post-secondary and scholarship applications).
We have chosen this very limited form of protest to put pressure on the employer to bargain in good faith.
Unfortunately, the government has not respected the bargaining process by refusing to change their position.
They are insisting on a net-zero mandate and tabling nothing but concessions which would strip our contract of significant rights around seniority, hiring, and professional development.
I am glad that our school board has decided to resist the political impulse that led the Abbotsford board to issue such a statement.
In my view, their actions are inflammatory and serve no useful purpose in encouraging a solution at the bargaining table.
I also question their numbers, since they don’t take into account any of the cost savings as a result of cancelled/postponed district committees, in-service for teachers, and other programs that are on hold as a result of the job action.
Teachers are prepared to continue with this low-level protest for the foreseeable future. It is difficult to predict how long it will last because any escalation will depend on the actions of the government.
I am deeply concerned that the government has recently appointed Trevor Hughes, an Assistant Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Labour, as a “fact-finder” to examine the bargaining process so far, and to judge the likelihood of a negotiated settlement.
Assigning a government employee who cannot possibly be impartial is a blatantly partisan act.
I believe the government will use Mr. Hughes’ “findings” as an excuse to unilaterally impose a contract on teachers through legislation. Let me be clear – teachers don’t want an escalation, or further disruptions to schools.
However, if the government chooses the draconian measure of imposing a contract on us though legislation, teachers will carefully consider all the options at our disposal and will decide on the best course of action for the protection of our members’ bargaining rights and the preservation of a strong public education system.
(Beth Miller is the president of Sea to Sky Teachers Association.)