If this dispute between B.C.’s public teachers and the provincial government can be likened to a poker game, the government revealed an important tell on Saturday when government negotiators rejected the BCTF’s call for binding arbitration.
While we don’t for a minute believe the teachers’ argument with the government is more about students than their own personal pay cheques, their union’s move to call for binding arbitration in itself revealed some willingness to compromise.
The government, on the other hand, sees no sign of optimism to enter into an arbitration process because the teachers are still refusing to bend on their wage and benefits demands. But is this good reason to reject the concept of binding arbitration outright, as at least one potential tool to help end this nonsense?
Heaven only knows what kind of remaining school year B.C.’s children will face if this labour dispute carries on for many more weeks. Once it’s resolved, they will undoubtedly be laden with ridiculous loads of homework. They’ll also have to deal with an inordinately steep learning curve to meet compressed curriculum requirements, not to mention whatever residual grumpy political baggage that’s left over in the wake of this dispute.
The longer this dispute drags on, the worse it will be for the kids. The government’s rejection of binding arbitration, as at least an option to get them back into class, suggests the government is more driven by ideology than the practical necessity to get students back into school.
It’s no secret this Liberal government is no fan of unions. However, it is tasked with providing education for our kids, and the need to fulfill this responsibility should supersede any union-breaking dreams the government might harbour.
To put ideology before children’s needs is simply bad governance.
When Premier Christy Clark was chosen to lead the BC Liberals, she promised that, "More than anything, our government will be tuned into families as never before," and said, "My top priority will be to put families first."
Does it serve families well to prolong this dispute? We think not. And to reject binding arbitration outright suggests a level of stubbornness which we doubt would be embraced in an election year.