The teachers in the Province of British Columbia have been without a contract since June 2004 when their last contract with the government expired. In that contract, the basic terms were 0%, 0% and 0% pay raises over the three-year contract period. Under the new negotiations, the teachers are asking for a 2% increase per year over 3 years with market adjustments of 2%, 3% and 4% (market adjustments to bring the teachers' salary up to par with their counterparts in other parts of the country). The news media have seized on this as the union asking for a 15% increase which is a red herring as it's 4%, 5% and 6% over the years. Other requests included reduced class sizes which the government took away in the last contract.
The response from the government in the form of the Labour Minister, Mike de Jong, was the introduction of legislation (Bill 12) which is to extend the expired contract from June 2004 to June 2006 taking away the teachers' right to stand up for their rights (legally). That's just plain mean and the tactics of a bully. Now if the teachers decided to take job action, they will be breaking the law and there will be consequences which would include large fines and possible jail time for the Executives. The government had lots of time to negotiated before the contract expired last June but no, they have wait until this year to start talks and are offering a 0% increase over the three years with no major concessions.
As a parent of school-aged kids, I'm very concerned about the impact to my kids' education but I'm even more alarmed with the heavy handedness of the government. Remember this is the same government who tore up the contract for the nursing union (a contract that was negotiated in good faith) because it didn't suit them. This is a government that is led by a man convicted of drunk driving (driving under the influence) who have no morals or principles and have shown to be mean-spirited (as is evidenced when the opposition party could only garter two seats out of 77 but needed 3 to gain opposition funding and the Premier flat out refused thereby effectively making a government without any official opposition). NB: This was during the first term and they are currently on their second term with a lot less seats won.
Right now, it's confirmed that the teachers will stage a wildcat strike and walk off the job this Friday to protest against the passing of this legislation.
The teachers have my thanks and support for standing up to a bully.
Addendum: Now the government is threatening to fire any teachers who participate in the scheduled illegal strike (which over 90% voted in favour of).