To the Editor,
At 89 years of age, I have observed many labour disputes. The current one between the teachers and the “Liberal” government appears to be a direct attack on labour unions specifically the BCTF.
Many people feel that unions demand too much but as a person who worked many years ago in both union and non-unionized restaurants, the difference in working conditions was astounding.
Just one example of this was: in the non-unionized restaurant, we were expected to do all clean-up and other duties after the completion of our shift on our own time which resulted in at least one hour of unpaid work per shift. Is this what we want to return to?
People need to be reminded that unions and the labour movement actions have led to reforms such as the 40-hour work week, minimum wages, paid holidays, an eight-hour day, child labour laws, equity for female workers and many health and safety reforms for all people, not just unionized workers.
In 2002, the BC Liberal government with Christy Clark as education minister stripped class size and composition from the collective agreement. A 12-year court battle won twice by teachers has resulted in the government launching yet another appeal. In order to negate the court’s rulings they have recently introduced to the bargaining table Bill E-80 which would keep class size and composition at current levels.
Bill E-80 and their refusal to go to binding arbitration clearly shows their unwillingness to solve this deadlock with the teachers in a fair way.
Teachers are fighting for all students in the classroom and for quality public education. Our society will not benefit from an under-funded public education system nor will our economy grow.