It’s been a week of mixed emotions for Richmond’s teachers, after their union leaders ended a ten-month dispute with the B.C. government.
With an agreement finally reached, they know, come September, they will be able to resume extracurricular activities without fear of union retribution.
But they’re also acutely aware that the vast majority of the issues that led them to walk out on strike in the spring are still hanging like a black cloud over their classrooms.
“It’s a relief for some, but there are mixed emotions,” said Al Klassen, Richmond Teachers Association (RTA) president.
“On one hand, the teachers want to teach unfettered and they feel good that some of that strain has gone.
But all of the problems have just been shoved into the future.”
The BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) has been having a hard time with the government, added Klassen. “I’m sad to say, we’re no better off with this agreement really.
“We may have improved some benefits and leave time, but they have been out of date for 20 years, we’re getting improvements that are long overdue.
“But it still doesn’t deal with the main issues of class size and composition. Those issues were there in 2005 and they’re still there right now.”
The students’ conditions are the teachers’ working conditions, Klassen added. “If one improves, so does the other.”
Klassen said the RTA is hopeful that, should the NDP win the next provincial election in the spring of 2013, it would be “more open to free collective bargaining.”
“These issues we have are not going to go away, they’re still going to be here next year.”
On Sunday night, BCTF concluded an agreement-in-committee with the provincial government. However, the union said it will continue its resistance to Bill 22 and its “violations of their collective bargaining rights.”
For that reason, the BCTF has filed a notice of civil claim in the BC Supreme Court regarding Bill 22.