EDITORIAL: Neither side budging — students in the middle

Barring a miracle, B.C. teachers are on strike as you read this.

Barring a miracle, B.C. teachers are on strike as you read this.Fortunately, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has begun job action responsibly.”Teach-only” job action means BCTF members will continue teaching, but won’t perform administrative tasks such as meeting with administrators, supervising on playgrounds, or writing report cards.Assuming management will supervise playgrounds, students and parents aren’t likely to be affected at first.That will change if contract negotiations stall and the BCTF goes to Phase Two.It’s apparent — and predictable given the argumentative negotiations between this union and a series of Liberal, NDP and Socred governments — that the two sides are far apart.Even before tabling salary demands, the BCTF announced some typically ludicrous grabs such as 10 days bereavement leave for the death of a friend and 26 weeks of paid compassionate leave.The BCTF, armed with a 90-per-cent strike mandate, will gain support from teachers still resenting Bills 27 and 28, which cut approximately $275 million in education funding.Teachers felt vindicated when a B.C. Supreme Court judge declared the legislation, introduced by Premier Christy Clark when she was education minister, unconstitutional.The BCTF can make a case for salaries to be restored to pre-Bill 27 and 28 levels, but further salary demands would be irresponsible.The employer estimates the BCTF’s non-salary demands would cost $2.9 billion and the government is hamstrung by an HST rejection that will cost it at least $2 billion, so BCTF demands might be moot.The irony is that many BCTF members likely voted to kill the HST.To avoid strike escalation and/or teachers being ordered back to work, the BCTF must be reasonable for a change and the employer must find a way to reduce class sizes or give teachers a minimal raise.History, and current stances, do not offer hope.editor@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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