Re: "Province, BCTF need new negotiation model," Oct. 20.
I agree with Geoff Johnson that teacher bargaining needs a new model. But I disagree that the bargaining model is the root of education strife in B.C. Nor was it the main barrier to peaceful labour relations in the past decade.
Eliminating the right to strike will not prevent teacher strikes. Most teacher strikes in B.C. history have been illegal. When workers are left with no other option to advocate for their position, they will withdraw their labour.
As Vince Ready stated in his lengthy analysis of teacher bargaining, "No collective bargaining system will succeed unless both parties are fully committed to achieving a collective agreement."
As a member of the BCTF bargaining team, I know first-hand that the BCTF was willing to compromise on every single one of our objectives - which, in the end, we did. However, the government came in with a "mandate" that was nonnegotiable. This meant we quickly reached impasse in negotiations.
Prior to the last round of bargaining, teachers had already seen a loss in wage purchasing power after four years of "zeroes" since 1998. We had seen hundreds of clauses of our collective agreement unconstitutionally removed by legislation in 2002. Every teacher in this province goes to school every day in classes that are larger and more complex and have fewer resources. There are hundreds fewer teacher-librarians, counsellors and special-education teachers.
Teacher bargaining will improve when the government pays more than lip service to public education and instead commits the resources needed to make improvements.
President Greater Victoria Teachers' Association
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