Fair negotiation for teachers is at issue
December 19, 2012
I have read with interest the press coverage and letters to the editor dealing with the recent job action by primary and secondary school teachers in the province. As the father of two high school students and the spouse of a high school teacher, I have witnessed this from several perspectives.
I have read that the teachers have made students the victims in this conflict and find these comments uninformed and disturbing. The teachers who I know are hard working individuals who consistently put their students’ needs first. They provide extra help during their lunch hours and stay late to do the same. They come in at 7 a.m. to lead band practice. They volunteer five days per week to coach teams. All of these activities and many more are volunteer activities that they are not paid to perform. How many in the general public can boast such an accomplished record of volunteerism? My own children have benefitted from these sacrifices by being part of superb high school teams and bands whose existence are threatened by the lack of this volunteer work. Instead of celebrating this long record of community-minded volunteerism by teachers, their commitment is questioned by the government and many in the public.
Unfortunately, the government’s Bill 115 has put teachers in a position where they must withdraw from these acts of volunteerism to protect their rights. They do so with heavy hearts but little choice. The right to collective bargaining and a fair bargaining process are threatened by Bill 115. The government would have them continue as is as they enact Bill 115.
The labour unrest and the loss of extracurricular activities can be ended with fair negotiation, even during this period of fiscal belt tightening. The recent successful negotiation with the province’s physicians is proof of this concept.
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