Teachers Oppose Bill 22

Press Release:
March 5, 2012
Teachers oppose Bill 22

Teachers in Surrey and across the province will not be in their classrooms Monday. Instead, they will be outside schools, working to educate other groups–including parents, the public, and elected members of municipal and provincial governments.

“Teachers will be leafleting outside school grounds and talking to parents and the public,” said Denise Moffatt, president of the Surrey Teachers’ Association. “They understand the seriousness of this action and the challenges a full walk-out presents to parents. However, the consequences to the under-funded public education system and threats to our basic rights as workers are too great for us to stand by when there is more we could do to encourage change and improvements to the system.”

“Government is waging a full-scale attack on our rights as professionals and on the rights of all students to receive a quality education through the public school system,” Moffatt continued. “Since 2002 when the government illegally stripped class-size guarantees from our contracts, conditions in classrooms across the province have worsened considerably. When is it time to fix this problem?”

Jennifer Wadge, first vice president of the Surrey Teachers’ Association explains, “The reason we are now at the point of full withdrawal of service is that government has introduced one-sided legislation to force teachers to abandon their struggle for improvements to the system. This legislation forces teachers to stop any and all job action, and appoints a government ‘mediator’ who can only enforce the government’s own mandate. That is not fair mediation. Over the past several months BCPSEA refused to make significant counter-proposals at the bargaining table. Instead, government has threatened us with legislation since day one. When the government has the power to write laws to get whatever it chooses, there is no need for them to compromise.”

“Normal negotiations involve give and take on both sides,” said Moffatt. “Teachers made significant compromises on our bargaining objectives in January and submitted a much-reduced package at the table. All our offers are negotiable. But the employer and government simply refuse to make counter proposals. This is not a case of two stubborn parties refusing to be reasonable. It is instead the case of one bully, who has all the legal and financial power, forcing the other party to comply. That’s not negotiation.”

The BCTF estimates that government has eliminated $3.3 billion from public education over the past decade. “Government contract stripping in 2002 allowed underfunding and created 100,000 overcrowded classrooms,” said Moffatt.” This action was deemed illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, yet they continue to ignore the problem and they ignore the court’s decision. This government cannot continue to run rough shod over the rights of workers and the rights of students to a decent education.”

A protest rally on the lawn of the legislature in Victoria is planned for noon on Tuesday, March 6.

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For more information media representatives can reach the Surrey Teachers’ Association by calling the office at 604.594.5353. You can also email Denise Moffatt at pres@surreyteachers.org

Monday, March 5th, 2012. Filed in Category: News Releases

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