Teachers should learn from paramedics
BC teachers must realize they will get NOWHERE with the Liberal government and school employers without job action and a major fight. They should learn from the mistreatment and suffering of BC’s paramedics at the hands of their employers and an intransigent government under an expired contract since 2001.
The paramedics’ contract negotiations went nowhere. No surprise, when the employer knows the paramedics are an essential service and couldn’t really do much to withdraw their services …and let’s fact it: nor would they, being workers so dedicated to critical service and the public who really need them.
So they were rewarded with NOTHING. In fact, even worse, in November, 2009, just before the Winter Olympics, the government legislated their old, old agreement would continue for another year. And the paramedics have only weeks ago finally been able to get back to the “bargaining” table (Ha!) …another farce, with the government’s “net zero” mandate hanging over their heads, once more playing into the hands of the employers, art the on-going cost and suffering of the paramedics and their families.
The teachers should learn from the paramedics’, and their own, past reality (which is what this blog always try to reflect and project). The teachers will get NOTHING from the government without a fight.
And remember, a zero increase is actually a decrease: in light of all the increases the BC government and its agencies continue unabated to dowload on us in the form of ever-increasing fees and service charges and licences of all kinds etc. etc.
Of course, the government will try to take advantage of teachers’ standing up for their rights, trying to corner the NDP into declaring whether they support the “kids” or the “unions”. The idea of any government using kids as a way to score political points may seem outrageous, but I believe that’s exactly what the government will do–if it can.
And the Liberals’ media mouthpieces will carry lots of stories about students suffering because of teacher greed (just asking for a c.o.l.a. raise these days in the face of rising costs is seen as greed to the government messengers).
It wouldn’t occur to them–or if it did, they’d suppress it–that by raising corporate taxes NOW to fair levels the teachers and paramedics disputes could BOTH be settled fairly and justly in very short order.
I have said it before and I will say it again: when a government takes away a public sector union’s right to strike, they must bring in compulsory arbitration to get a fair settlement.
To just order them–teachers or paramedics–to continue working, without legal recourse to a fair settlement, diminishes our society.
Harv Oberfeld is a blogger and retired journalist. This column originally appeared in his blog, Keeping It Real. Reprinted with permission.