Posts tagged ‘Collective bargaining rights’

October 8, 2015

Robert Green discusses a range of issues facing Quebec’s teachers with CKUT’s Dan Parker and Stefan Christoff

Interview from the October 7th edition of CKUT’s The Wednesday morning after.

Click here to download

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September 21, 2015

Is striking an effective tactic for Quebec’s teachers?

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
–  Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity

By Robert Green

There is no question that the teachers of Quebec are angry. Already the lowest paid teachers in Canada, the government’s current salary offer would see Quebec teachers falling even further behind with their inflation-adjusted salaries decreasing by about 7% over 5 years. Of even greater concern is the fact that government is proposing to rid our contract of nearly every clause that protects our working conditions and the learning conditions of our students, from limits on class size to a range of supports for students with special needs.

It is an understatement to suggest that the teachers of Quebec want actions that will pressure government to back away from its most regressive proposals. Most teachers are ready to make personal sacrifices in pursuit of that goal. The question for Quebec’s teachers is: what sort of action will actually be effective in achieving this goal?

A grassroots push to work-to-rule

Last spring the members of the Montreal Teachers Association passed a motion in their annual general meeting stating that the action the members wanted to pursue was a work-to-rule campaign. The sentiment expressed by many MTA members was that the large number of unpaid hours worked by Quebec’s teachers was an enormous source of power. Given that teachers are not paid for enough hours to adequately do their job, withdrawing the volunteer labour done by teachers was seen by many as an effective way to create pressure within the system while avoiding the spectre of back-to-work legislation. Working to rule may not be as effective for other public sector unions but there was a strong sentiment that teachers were in a unique position to create real pressure with this tactic. There was also a feeling expressed that it would be far easier to build and maintain public support through a work-to-rule campaign than through a strike action which would create major inconveniences for families.

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September 11, 2014

Why Teachers Fear the Worst of Clark Government

Signs mount that union busting, privatized schooling are true agenda.

By Tom Kertes| Published September 10, 2014 by TheTyee.ca

Today, public school teachers in British Columbia will vote to end their job action if the government agrees to leave the issues of class size and class compensation to the courts. Both parties are almost on the same page when it comes to wages and contract length, but regardless the government continues to say the two are miles apart, and continues to refuse to participate in binding arbitration.

Why this government is so adamantly against making any deal with teachers, other than a deal that essentially amounts to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation giving up its court case, giving up on wages and giving up on any issue of importance to its members, is what everyone watching this dispute is asking.

The point of government is to work within a system of balanced power that supports the community as a whole. One way to do this is through public education, which provides schooling on an equal and equitable basis and with public oversight. Public education, in contrast to private education, is universally accessible. Every child in B.C. has a right to education, a right respected by government through the provision of schools supported by shared taxation. In contrast, a privatized system — like the system of private schools already in place for some students — starts with barriers to entry. Parents need to be able to afford it, or the child must be deemed worthy of entry, for example to receive a school scholarship.

A concern for all supporters of public education is that the BC Liberals will introduce either a charter system, where public dollars are diverted from a public system to one composed of publicly-funded, for-profit, special-interest or religious schools. If this government wants to use the strike as a wedge issue to pull support from the public schools or as a weapon to break the teachers’ union, then we may end up with the worst possible scenario, where our public system gets dumped for a private one. The government may do this because it opposes union influence over the school system, because its supporters are either seeking to profit or to proselytize through a new system, or simply because it wants to put its own stamp on the system.

Whatever the reason, B.C. cannot afford to lose the public benefits that only a public school system provides.

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/09/10/Teachers-Clark-Govt-Fear/

September 6, 2014

Hey, premiers, leave them teachers alone!

By Robert Green | Published Sept 1 2014 by Ricochet

The beginning of the school year should be a time of great optimism and excitement for teachers. We’re energized by seeing our colleagues again and excited to meet the students we’ll be teaching for the year. Our thoughts should be focused on making our classrooms more welcoming, our lessons more engaging and our contributions to our school community more meaningful.

Unfortunately, for too many teachers across Canada the positive feelings that normally accompany the beginning of the school year will be overshadowed by more negative sentiments: uncertainty, frustration, anger and above all the feeling of being profoundly disrespected.

British Columbia

Nowhere is this more true than in BC. The province’s teachers have been on the picket line since the spring as part of the latest chapter in an exasperating decades-long struggle with the province’s Liberal government. The bad faith demonstrated by the government over the course of this struggle boggles the mind. While the media wants to malign BC teachers as greedy, the heart of this dispute has always been about protecting quality of education for students by reducing class size. After teachers gave up salary concessions in the nineties in order to win class-size reductions (greedy bastards!) the BC Liberals went on to unilaterally remove these provisions from their contract in 2002.

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March 15, 2014

B.C. teachers’ math lesson: workers + labour rights = stability

By H.G. Watson | Published March 14, 2014 by Rabble.ca

Excerpt:

Unions have been fighting PR wars against governments for most of their existence. But in 2014, after years of people getting used to austerity measures in the name of stability, unions constantly bare the brunt of blame for any work disruption they take as part of trying to negotiate a collective agreement.

But when provincial and federal legislators are hacking away at democratic rights or threatening extended contracts with no ability to arbitrate, what choice is left for labour unions?

BCTF certainly see this as not just a labour issue, but a democratic issue. “The [B.C.] government believe that they can just violate constitution of the country,” said Iker. “And I think the public expects government to uphold the law not break the law.”

The irony, of course, is that if governments did actually come to the table in good faith and did what they were supposed to do, we would avoid uncertainty. Collective bargaining, as demonstrated in many instances over the years, does work if both sides can come to the table ready to talk.

Read more: http://rabble.ca/news/2014/03/bc-teachers-math-lesson-workers-labour-rights-stability

March 17, 2013

Attack on Ontario teachers is part of a trend: Walkom

The post-war bargain between labour and capital is unravelling. Teachers are the test case.

By: | Published on Fri Mar 15 2013 by The Toronto Star

The festering Ontario teachers’ dispute is not about wages and extracurricular activities, although these are the current flashpoints.

It is not about whether teachers should be forced by law to coach soccer in their off hours as Tim Hudak’s Conservatives demand.

Nor is it about eliminating the province’s deficit as Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne suggests.

It is not much about teachers at all.

At its heart, this fight is about work. It is about the implicit deal struck between governments, employers and employees more than 50 years ago to make the workplace a fairer place.

It is about the unravelling of that deal.

When the teachers’ unions say this dispute is about collective bargaining rights, that’s what they mean.

Yet the anodyne phrase “collective bargaining rights” does no justice to a complex system born literally out of bloody strikes and cracked heads — a system devised to adjudicate disputes between labour and capital that, until recently, worked tolerably well.

Read more: http://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2013/03/15/attack_on_ontario_teachers_is_part_of_a_trend_walkom.html