Teachers act to improve learning conditions, safeguard union rights

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Teachers walked off the job at schools across the province on Friday as the provincial government imposed a contract on BC teachers that undermines free collective bargaining and shortchanges BC students on improved learning conditions.

Bill 12, the Teachers' Collective Agreement Act, extends the term of the current collective agreement until June 30, 2006 and would then impose a new collective bargaining regime on members of the BC Teachers’ Federation.

It also undermines teachers' efforts to negotiate improvements to learning conditions for BC kids including smaller class sizes and more resources for special needs students.

BC teachers strongly supported HEU members during our job action last year and now we can stand by them.

Here's what HEU members can do:

  • HEU members who are NOT ON SHIFT can support teachers on their lines outside schools. HEU members currently on strike against Sodexho will also be supporting BCTF lines.
  • On Tuesday, October 11 in the evening, labour councils around the province will hold rallies in support of teachers. Please make every effort to attend these rallies. Check the BC Federation of Labour website (coming events lower right) for an up-to-date list of planned rallies.
  • In Vancouver, the rally will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, 999 Canada Place.
  • In Victoria the rally will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the Greater Victoria School District Office (Tolmie Building) 556 Boleskine Road.
  • In Campbell River, the rally will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the Campbell River School District Office located at 415 Pinecrest.
  • In Courtenay, the rally will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the offices of MLA Stan Hagen on 5th Street.
  • In Prince George, the rally will be held at 4:00 p.m. at the offices of Education Minister Shirley Bond, 1350 5th Avenue.
  • In Cranbrook, the rally will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the offices of MLA Bill Bennett, 100C Cranbrook Street North.
  • Kamloops at 5 p.m. at MLA Kevin Krueger's Office on Oriole Road, Valleyview.
  • Nanaimo at 6 p.m. at the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School Board Office, 395 Wakesiah Avenue
  • Sunshine Coast at 3 p.m. at the Rockwood Pavillion in Sechelt
  • Salmon Arm at 5:30 p.m. at MLA George Abbott’s office on Alexander Street
  • Penticton at 4:30 p.m. at Gyro Park
  • Kelowna at 5 p.m. at MLA Sindi Hawkins' office, 102-1221 Ethel Street
  • Terrace at 4:30 p.m. at the Government Access Centre
  • Duncan at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall Square
  • Port Alberni at 6:45 p.m. at the School Board Office
  • Kitimat at 4:30 p.m. at Centennial Square
  • Call, write or visit your MLA and tell her or him that at a parent you support BC teachers in their fight for better learning conditions for kids, restoration of teachers’ bargaining rights and a fair wage increase. And tell your MLA that this is an opportunity for the BC Liberal government to take a different approach to public sector labour relations that relies on negotiation — not legislation. You can find your MLA’s contact information including phone and fax numbers here.
  • Call or write the chairperson of your local school board to state your support for BC teachers. You can find that information here.
  • And make your voice heard on local radio call in shows and by writing a letter to your local newspaper.

Bill 12 was proclaimed into law on Friday afternoon.

In the legislature, former HEU staffer Raj Chouhan now the MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds had this to say during the debate on Bill 12 Thursday:

"Teaching is a very noble and respectful profession, but by introducing Bill 12, this government once again has shown a total disrespect for teachers and their rights. Yesterday we heard the Minister of Education and the Minister of Labour on Monday that they took no pleasure from introducing Bill 12. Well, if that's the case, if they're not happy, then do the simple thing. Withdraw Bill 12. Utilize other options that are available. Negotiate in good faith with the BCTF, but don't sit here and pretend that you have tried."

Teachers deserve our support as they fight for firm limits on class size, adequate support for students with special needs, more teacher-librarians, counsellors, ESL and learning assistance teachers: all these improvements are fundamental to a quality education.

And just as critical is the teachers' fight to defend their bargaining rights and negotiate a fair contract. With contract talks for HEU members just around the corner, it's important that we send a clear message to government that negotiation is a far better option than legislation.

HEU is continuing to meet with other unions and the BCTF to plan further actions and events in support of teachers.

Please check the HEU website or call the HEU bargaining hotline at 604 739 1515 (Vancouver) or toll-free 1 800 663 5813 ext. 1515 for updates.