Student speaks out

Student expresses some thoughts on the current labour dispute at schools

Back and forth, back and forth, aimlessly they walk the roadside path, retracing their steps.  They chat and joke to lighten the mood, but no one feels lightly about the day’s activities.

Around and around they go, careful never to step on their workplace property. The teachers orbit the school like planets the sun. Never edging too far away, and never stepping too close for fear they might get burned. Teachers cannot even park their cars on school property.  They are not allowed to walk across the parking lot or sit in the field for a break. The system is faulty. The union, whose job it is to represent the teachers, is more concerned with the numbers on paper than students trying to go to school.  The government, the employer, seems to be focused on only saving money, not on the needs of education. The teachers are chess pieces in a power game against the government. Sacrifice a pawn to save your queen. Sacrifice your teachers’ wages and respect to prick the government with a pin of resistance. It is all the same.

This labour dispute flared to life back in 2002 when Christy Clark enacted bills 27 and 28, which eliminated protection on class size and composition, reduced support for kids with special needs and stripped teachers of their bargaining rights.  Since then, teachers have been attempting to return those previously agreed upon education regulations. If the strike was merely about wages, an agreement would have been reached by now.

A strike right now helps only the government. They can now withhold pay for long enough that when negotiations break through, they will have enough money to finally pay the teachers a reasonable amount from what they withheld during the strike.  Striking does not help my teachers, it hurts them. I can see it in their eyes, as they circle the school. They do not want to be locked out. They want to do their jobs. They want to teach their students about how to write with conviction, speak a different language, and why math is important? I’m still not sure but maybe if my teachers were allowed back in school, I could learn. I do not want to see my teachers, people I respect and who care for me, bullied and pushed away from their workplace by inflated egos in power. I want to continue to learn from them. Let them teach their students.

Perhaps the negotiators should be locked in a room until an agreement can be reached which places the needs of students above the needs of figurehead’s pockets.


Stephanie Erickson