Issue one: Bills 27 and 28 broke the collective agreement 10 years ago and resulted in the loss of class-size and composition guarantees. The laying off of thousands of teachers and specialists followed. For 10 years, children have not been given the service they deserve. Packed classes, hallways, dangerous workshops and labs are ignored. So are special needs students and second-language learners. Improvements in our working conditions mean better learning for children. Teachers had fought hard for improvements, giving up salary.
Issue two: teachers are not being respected; hard-earned rights such as seniority and transfer procedures are threatened, along with choice in professional development. The government only briefly consults parents and teachers via the Internet to pass an idealistic, impossible new education plan, perhaps costing billions to implement. which may result in further teacher cuts and impersonal computerized learning.
You, the public, must stop the cuts, speak out with teachers, call us up, write, tweet and tell this government that they cannot ignore a court decision. Fix Bills 28 and 29 and restore teachers’ bargaining rights.
How sad when teachers in this province are denied the simple right to strike, which Canadian workers fought for and built this country on.
Issue three: teachers are not spoiled, rich workers; there is a $20,000 discrepancy with the rest of Canada. We are not overpaid for what we do – on average, teachers work 10 hours per week above contractual hours. During reporting, that doubles (Surrey Teacher Association survey).
We are not just there to make money, but to make kids the best that they can be. Society makes choices; choose our future, not corporate tax savings.
Lastly: the BCTF is a social justice union – it is democratic – it is teachers, not some leftist political entity as some papers and union-haters, at times, brand it.
Actions are taken after consulting locals and surveying members. This past weekend, the representative assembly took place. Teachers debated their next step in bargaining. Any decisions by the assembly will be voted on again by every single teacher.
When you stand with teachers, you stand for quality public education and society’s future, before it’s too late!
Neovi Patsicakis, Surrey
Special education teacher and parent