Today’s Poll

No start to school term as teachers continue to strike

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
September 2nd, 2014

The nightmare that started in the spring continues for students, parents and teachers as the opening of the 2014-15 public school term has been pushed back after negotiations between the B.C. Teachers’ Association and the bargaining agent for the provincial government, B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, ended abruptly Saturday in Richmond.

“It’s got to be a huge disappointment for everyone from kids, parent and for us teachers that school will not begin as expected Tuesday (September 2),” said Nelson and District Teacher Association president Paul Boscariol Monday.

Key issues in the dispute continue to be a wide gap in wages, benefits and class composition.

Boscariol said teachers will be back on the picket line Tuesday with a full-scale walkout that will shutdown every nook and cranny in Kootenay Lake School District No. 8.

“There will be full-scale pickets (Tuesday) and that will pretty much be the norm across the province,” Boscariol confirmed.

“We’ll be picketing everywhere, from the maintenance yard (on Lakeside Drive in Nelson) to all school sites in the district.”

Boscariol said teachers expressed optimism an eleventh-hour deal could be reached with veteran mediator Vince Ready jumping on board the bargaining train last Thursday.

However, even the skilled Ready, who in the spring mediated what many thought was an unthinkable end to the trucker’s strike, could not bridge the Grand-Canyon-like gap between the BCTF and government.

Ready said “the parties are still a long ways apart.”

“I think the membership was truly disappointed as they were holding out some sort hope there would be resolve,” Boscariol said. “Now the members are prepared to continue to picket to get an agreement.”

The result of Ready’s departure saw the government and BCTF ratchet-up the rhetoric Sunday as the spin doctors tried to sway public support.

Monday, Premier Christy Clark joined the foray, tweeting “unfortunately, the BCTF rejected our offer to reopen schools while the two sides enter mediation to reach an agreement.”

“Instead, the BCTF is sticking to its strike and demanding twice as much money as everyone else in the public service has received,” Clark added.

“That’s not fair for the 150,000 dedicated women and men who have reached long-term agreements with affordable raises. Class composition is priority #1 — more educators helping more students. BCTF or CUPE, it doesn’t matter because students’ needs come first.”

Boscariol, although not impressed with the Premier, didn’t want to respond to the comments.

Instead the NDTA skipper asked why the government continues appeal court decisions won by the BCTF.

“I’m not sure if this is responsible spending of taxpayer dollars,” Boscariol said. “The government says our proposals are way out of line, but I think the taxpayers of BC should be asking the government what the cost is to fight all those court battles . . . costs that haven’t come out yet.”

While teachers across the province walk the picket lines, in Nelson a group of parents are staging a protest march Tuesday, beginning at noon at the former Extra Foods parking lot.

The march is scheduled to proceed down Baker Street ending at the City of Nelson courtyard where speeches will be made.

Ad-hoc spokesperson Lucas Myers said the march was organized after a group of parents met last week.

Some of those in the group will speak at the rally to follow the march and there will be a $40 note available to the public to send into the government.

Tuesday is also the day parents can register for the government’s $40 per day parent support program.

“In the end it’s the kids who are losing out,” Boscariol said.

“The issue here is the system is losing out. Parents must get involved to make more of an active push to the government that they’re concerned about public education.”

Parents can keep in touch with strike information on the Kootenay Lake School Board website.

Categories: Education

Other News Stories