The South Okanagan Boundary Labour Council wholeheartedly supports the B.C. Teachers Federation’s stand against Bill 22. This bill is not only an attack on B.C. teachers, but is also a full assault on Canadians’ constitutional rights to free collective bargaining. When the government tried to do this in 2002, the courts ruled it was unconstitutional. What is different this time? Anyone can make a mistake, but most of us learn from it. Negotiate, Minister Abbott. Don’t legislate.
A deal is usually achieved in the course of negotiating and compromising by those on both sides of the table. That is fair. What is not fair is when one side abuses their power to beat the opponent into submission. We therefore urge the withdrawal of this confrontational (and unconstitutional?) legislation and further urge the government to allow real “independent” arbitration or mediation to facilitate a fairly negotiated agreement. Appointing a hand-picked mediator with a restrictive mandate is an abuse of power and is certainly not in the spirit of free and fair bargaining.
The disrespect shown to the teachers by Minister George Abbott and the government is just the latest in a growing litany of examples of a government that has lost touch with a majority of British Columbians. Recent polls taken by the B.C. Federation of Labour clearly demonstrates that the majority of the public favour negotiation over legislation. But when lately has this government listened to the majority of British Columbians?
The teachers want to teach and provide quality education to each and every child. They are the ones who are really negotiating for the students. Stand behind them and let the government know that the only fair and just thing to do is negotiate, not legislate.
In solidarity with the BCTF.
Brent Voss, president
South Okanagan Boundary Labour Council