Education Minister George Abbott will visit Quesnel on April 12, 2012. His visit will highlight teachers’ opposition to current government legislation and the Liberal governments’ lack of commitment to a quality public education system. Teachers have been at the bargaining table for more than 12 months, and have been without a Collective Agreement since June 2011.
Quesnel teachers join their provincial colleagues in continuing to oppose Bill 22 the so-called ‘Education Improvement Act’. This legislation will have a devastating impact on students and teachers.
Teachers will make their concerns clear to Minister Abbott as he conducts school visits in Quesnel. Teachers are opposed to the Liberal government’s plan to put BC’s internationally renowned education system in jeopardy by introducing legislation that strips class size and composition protections and fairly negotiated Collective agreement provisions. Many of the provisions the legislation is seeking to strip has been in Teachers’ collective agreements for more than 25 years.
Teachers are also concerned about the so-called ‘mediation’ process included in the legislation. This process sets out several terms of reference the mediator must follow to address concessions sought by the employer, BCPSEA at the bargaining table.
The appointment of mediator Charles Jago, former president of the University of Northern British Columbia, to act as the mediator has done little to reassure teachers the government is serious about a fair and impartial mediation process. Mr. Jago has no K–12 experience or mediation/ arbitration experience or background. Further, Mr. Jago was involved with the government in drafting the odious legislation, Bill 22. Finally, Mr. Jago was approached to fill the mediation role in February 2012, well before Abbott asked the BCTF for names of acceptable mediators. This final revelation shows blatant disrespect for teachers and collective bargaining and the lack of integrity of the mediation process.
The Liberal government has also abdicated their responsibility to rectify the unconstitutional legislation they imposed in 2002.
In 2002 the Liberal government, under leader Gordon Campbell stripped class size and composition language from teachers Collective Agreements province-wide. Last April Supreme Court Justice Griffin found the legislation to be unconstitutional and gave government 12 months to rectify the situation. To date the Liberals have refused to negotiate an agreement with teachers and have put parts of the legislation, found to be unlawful by the Supreme Court of Canada, back in to law through Bill 22.
Teachers want and deserve a fairly negotiated collective agreement and are willing to stay at the bargaining table for as long as it takes to achieve results.
Teachers are committed to quality public education and are willing to continue to oppose the legislation that will be harmful to students and the system.
We encourage parents and the general public to join us in our opposition to Bill 22 and give Abbott the message on April 12. For more information contact the QDTA office at 250-992-3737.
For more information, contact, Teri Mooring, President of the Quesnel District Teachers’ Association at 250-992-3737 (office.)
–submitted by Teri Mooring