Obey the Law and We'll Talk
Yesterday, the BC Government released this statement on the teacher's illegal job action:
MINISTER APPEALS TO TEACHERS TO RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM
VANCOUVER - Labour and Citizens' Services Minister Michael de Jong made the
following statement today regarding the teacher dispute:
Rule of Law is Paramount:
It is with sincere regret that I feel compelled to make the following
statement. I have just read the judgment from the Supreme Court of B.C. that
penalizes the B.C. Teachers' Federation for ignoring an earlier contempt of
court ruling. It is an unprecedented ruling, reaffirming the court's earlier
decision and requiring BCTF members to return to work immediately.
The order is clear. The union cannot use any of its assets, including its
offices, faxes or website to further this illegal action. It cannot pay its
members for the time already spent carrying out this illegal activity and it
cannot pay them for any further breach of the law. In light of such an
unprecedented ruling, I am today appealing to individual teachers to do what
is right. Return to your classes. I make this appeal not just because it is
the right thing to do for students and their families, but because the court
has ordered it.
Returning to the Class:
So for those individual teachers who remain fearful of what will happen if
they choose to return to work in accordance with the court order, they
should know that there are provisions in the Labour Code. Those provisions
provide protections for all unionized employees. Quite simply, the union
cannot impose penalties for a member who refuses to participate in an
activity that is against the law.
I want members of the union to know, the very day this union respects the
court, we will sit down and talk. We will not be entering into discussions
with the BCTF while they remain in contempt. It would be an affront to the
courts and the court's authority for anyone, including government, to take
any action that would attach pre-conditions on the court's ruling. We will
respect the ruling, stand behind the courts and say clearly and
unconditionally, stand down this illegal action and end this illegal strike.
It is time to move forward and get on with fixing a broken bargaining system
for the education sector. I am reaching out to those in the B.C. Teachers'
Federation and other education stakeholders to work with Industrial Inquiry
Commission Vince Ready to develop a bargaining framework that has a chance
of reaching a negotiated settlement, something that has not happened in more
than a decade. Get involved in the Learning Roundtable and let's talk about
the issues raised around class size and composition. If we need to improve
the School Act, let's get on and do it.
We all agree that children - students - should be the top priority. All of
us should keep that in mind as we consider our next steps in the days ahead.