Editorial: No choice

If government takes away all means to force them to listen, then what do you have left?

They’ve really been left with no option.

Thursday, teachers across the province voted in support of an action plan to oppose Bill 22.

The legislation, passed in March, put in place harsh penalties for teachers and unions who take strike action, during the “cooling off” period.

Fines include $475 per day for teachers engaging in “illegal strike action”, $2,500 a day for union representatives and $1.3 million per day for the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.

The action plan includes teachers ceasing all extra-curricular activities, as well as public information sessions to raise community awareness.

Quesnel and District Teachers’ Association president Teri Mooring said the decision to withdraw from extra-curricular activities was “not an easy one” and not one teachers took lightly.

But, she added, “it was the only option we have left.”

She’s right.

If government takes away all means to force them to listen, then what do you have left?

If classes run as usual, if no disruption is “allowed” then why would the province even bother with negotiations?

Teachers have no other choice but to pull out from after school sporting, music and theatre activities, it’s their only means to engage government in discussion.

Government has forced them to take action where the outcome negatively impacts students in hopes the pressure will lead them to negotiate rather than legislate.

Even if you oppose strike action, even if you don’t agree with teachers, government should never be able to remove all bargaining rights.

And the disruption to students after-school activities is a prime example of what happens when they do.

–Autumn MacDonald, Observer