Teachers hit the streets once again to draw attention to the fact that although the school year is coming to an end, their labor dispute is not. Rallies occurred in numerous locations around B.C., including Prince Rupert, as teachers mark one year without a contract.
Teachers once again showcased their anger at the passage of Bill 22.
“This bill strips away our rights to collective bargaining” says Joanna Larson, President of the Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union. “The government’s interference with the collective bargaining process through legislation, essentially undermines the process. Take that with the crippling fines, the mock mediation process, and the net zero mandate, and it isn’t hard to understand why teachers are so upset. It undermines our work, what we do, and what public education is and should be in our province.”
The BCTF is challenging the Bill in court, as well as going back to court over Bills 27 and 28 passed in 2002. In April 2011, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the government’s actions were unconstitutional and had violated teacher rights and gave it one year to remedy the situation, which the BCTF alleges did not happen.
“Given the [court] ruling, we believed that we had regained the right to bargain class size, class composition, and the provision of services by specialist teachers, and thereby drive much-needed funding back into our public school system,” BCTF union president Susan Lambert says in a release. “But government refused to recognize the decision and yet another year of cuts has further eroded the quality of services to students.”
President Susan Lambert says it has been more then year since a supreme court ruling found teachers’ rights were violated when class size and composition were removed from bargaining. Lambert says those issues are still not on the table, despite months of contract talks, and she hopes a court case, set for early December, will settle the matter.