Opinion

Response to British Columbia Teacher's Federation negotiations

I have quite deliberately not entered into the public debate in the East Kootenay’s on the topic of a new contract with the BCTF, hoping, despite past experience, this union could find a way to bargain in good faith on behalf of the thousands of great teachers in this province.

The BCTF simply ignores the government's fiscal reality, and the fact is that many other public sector unions have come to terms with this. How can the BCTF expect the tax payer to pay way more of an increase to one union than all other public sector unions?

The BCTF knows full well that agreeing to its ridiculous wage demands would send the province into deficit, so why do they keep insisting behind closed doors that the tax payer agree to such irresponsible demands?

The answer clearly is that the BCTF leadership is more about partisan politics than students or teachers or the education system. I believe that the vast majority of teachers want to settle on reasonable terms and get back to work but their leadership is more interested in the same old tiresome class warfare that has captured this union for decades.

The government is but one party in this labour negotiation. It takes two parties to negotiate an agreement, and when one party insists on obscenely high cost increases, not even veteran mediator Vince Ready can fix it.

Now, it is time that teachers tell their union leaders that they want to teach while talks continue. Stop the pickets and let the kids go back to school. The BCTF would take this reasonable step if it really is "all about the children."

Bill Bennett

East Kootenay MLA

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