EDITORIAL: A critical question of time

The provincial government is quite predictably getting some flak from the B.C. Teachers Federation and the NDP ...

The provincial government is quite predictably getting some flak from the B.C. Teachers Federation and the NDP over a plan to pay parents of children (up to 12) $40 per day for each school day missed in September – if the BCTF strike is not settled by then.

While the move is certainly political, it does recognize the fact that parents are hit hard by the teachers’ strike, through extra daycare and other costs.

The government saves a boatload of money – $12 million a day – as a result of the strike. It is not unreasonable to share some of those savings with those who are paying extra money in day-to-day expenses, as a result of this strike.

It also should serve as a reminder to BCTF members that there will be no paycheques in September if the strike isn’t settled by then.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong is right that it would do little good to legislate teachers back to work. That tactic has been used far too often in the past. There needs to be an actual agreement between the two sides, for their own good and for the good of students and parents.

The bargaining system involving the two is in terrible shape, but hard negotiations could result in an agreement — if there is some genuine willingness on the part of both sides to do so.

Teachers who are caught up in this dispute will have to carefully consider their actions over the next month or so. Many are already feeling the financial squeeze. Several weeks out of work in September will really hurt, particularly as they are not getting strike pay. Will they put pressure on the union to try and settle?

The government holds almost all the cards. It will face no political pressure of any consequence, with an election three years away. Settlements with other unions will eventually force the BCTF to toe the line. The question is, how long will it take?

And will kids pay the price again by losing instruction time this fall?

– Black Press

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