OUR VIEW: Labour cauldron bubbles over

Next B.C. government will have its hands full with teachers

The summer holiday is over and the kids are back in their classrooms for another 10 months of education. Along with the ABCs and three Rs, this year they may even get report cards.

This year students and their parents don’t have to worry about scrapped after-school activities or navigating the simmering tensions between teachers and administrators.

In September 2011, students entered classrooms with teachers on a work-to-rule footing. Instruction didn’t stop, but teachers didn’t write report cards, wouldn’t host parent-teacher conferences after school hours and in some cases, coaching for sports teams was taken over by volunteer parents.

In some schools principals, vice-principals, superintendents and managers scrambled to watch elementary kids at recess and after school. A three-day strike in March capped off a terrible year in public education.

This year classrooms are basically back to normal, but the labour war between teachers and government bubbles behind the scenes – especially with the issue of class size and composition. The BC Teachers’ Federation is suing the government to regain bargaining rights over these factors. BCTF has a court date in December.

Just before he announced his retirement and left the education portfolio veteran cabinet minister George Abbott said he expected the next round of bargaining with teachers to begin next March or April. However, that process will be quickly sidelined by the May election which most political pundits and pollsters expect the NDP to win handily.

The BCTF won’t waste its time seriously negotiating with a lame-duck Liberal administration when it can re-start negotiations with a more labour-friendly NDP government. And, the dearly departed Liberals will be more than happy to hand this hornet’s nest to their friends across the aisle.

To the winners go the headaches.

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