PACs, trustees speak up on teacher/gov’t fight

Two groups caught in the middle of the battle are speaking out and asking for a negotiated settlement soon.

Two groups caught in the middle of the battle between the B.C. government and teachers are speaking out and asking for a negotiated settlement soon.

The B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) released a statement on Monday, June 2 calling for an immediate end to the rotating strike and lockout action because of its impact on students.

According to the BCCPAC, the feud is having a detrimental effect on the most vulnerable students by denying them the help they need from teachers at this critical time of year, said president Terry Berting. It’s also causing financial hardship for struggling families.

“Successful outcomes for all students – not just those graduating from Grade 12 – are being affected by this labour dispute,” he said. “This has got to stop.”

BCCPAC wants government and the union to stop using pressure tactics that affect students and concentrate their energy on achieving a new collective agreement, it says. It is time for both sides to take risks and negotiate in the true spirit of give and take, the group said.

“We’re encouraging parents to write to Education Minister Peter Fassbender and B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) president Jim Iker, explaining how the rotating strikes and lockout are hurting families,” added Nicole Makohoniuk, BCCPAC president as of July 1.

Meanwhile, the body representing all B.C. school trustees spoke up on Wednesday, June 4, ahead of School District 5’s second one-day strike on Thursday.

The B.C. School Trustees Association (BCSTA) sent a letter to all trustees in the province Wednesday, reaffirming the importance of stability for students in the midst of job action.

BCSTA president Teresa Rezansoff pointed to the group’s Stability for Students Action Plan, which wants to see no disruption to student programs or school and district configurations during the battle between government and teachers.

“The objectives of BCSTA’s Stability for Students Action Plan remain as relevant and urgent as ever. A negotiated settlement must be reached, and soon,” said Rezansoff.

“The time for serious and concentrated bargaining is now. We call on the BCTF and the government to redouble their efforts and negotiate all summer if necessary to end the current unrest.”

As well as wage increases, teachers and the government are negotiating for a contract that sets class sizes and composition.

The Labour Relations Board was set to rule late Wednesday on whether the B.C. government’s partial lockout and 10 per cent wage cut are legal. See Friday’s Townsman for more on this developing story.