Some things just need to be said...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Eduaction dispute in BC could have been avoided

Is there anyone out there that really thought the education system would not become a political football under the Liberals.

It all goes back to day one of the BC Liberals reign in power. That was the day when they cut taxes. The cuts were made to stimulate the economy and make BC more competitive. It did one more thing, the cuts put a 2 billion dollar hole in the budget. With a government unwilling to go into debt, it gave them a solid reason to cut services and wages. If you make the pie smaller it only makes sense we all get a smaller piece of pie as a result.

With the BC Liberals however the pie pieces handed out from the now smaller pie were still as large as before if not larger for some segments of BC. The richest among us did very well and so did large companies. This left the government with an excuse that any 10 year could cook up in an easy bake oven. No money, we have to cut.

The first thing they did was rip up binding and legal contracts with workers. Think about this. The employer and employees sign a contract that says they will abide by it for a set period of time. The Liberals decided they did not like the contract so they wrote a law that eliminated some of the provisions of legal and valid contracts entered into in good faith. No government in BC has ever done that. It really matters little today to know that Gordon Campbell promised to abide by contracts freely entered into.

Some people are suggesting some public union contracts should be should be settled with a form of binding arbitration. That would remove the government from using its legislative ability to unilaterally rip up or set the content of an agreement. It would be fair, likely take into account the employers ability to pay and of course the employers requirements to deliver service.

The BC Liberals have entered into binding arbitration with several groups. In the case of crown prosecutors they not only did it twice, each time they refused to abide by the binding arbitration. The question to be asked is why the heck did they go through the exercise if they were going to go back on their word. What the heck did binding arbitration mean to them then or better yet, what does it mean today?

The Liberals have known for four years since they ripped up the last teachers agreement that they were in for a fight this time. The teachers knew they were in for a big battle. The Liberals thought passing legislation (Bill 12) extending the teachers contract another two years would push the teachers to strike and the public would rally around the government against the teachers.

After almost two full weeks of teachers being off the job, the government is recognizing that to date it has back fired on them. 57% of people polled supported the teachers a couple of days ago, up from 55% before the strike. The trend is going the wrong way. Now secret talks are going on between the government and teachers. They have a few people between them as screens but in the end it looks like the Liberals Plan A failed so they have gone to a hastily conceived Plan B.

My bet is the teachers are going to get a wage increase and class size language in their collective agreement. All of this could have been done without a strike if Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals had not thought they could hammer the teachers a second time and get away with it in the court of public opinion.

As for the teachers breaking the law there is no doubt they are doing that. As for the Campbell Liberals they see it like this, if we don't like a contract the government legally entered into, they will just write a new law saying screw the contract. Its abit like hiring the neighbour kid to baby sit for $5.00 and hour then coming back after your evening out and saying you don't like that so you have decided you are only going to be pay $3.50 an hour. You can only get away with that for so long, until you run out of kids that will work for you and friends that will let you abuse their kids like that.

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