Letters to the Editor

Teachers already sacrificed wages for class size and look where that got us

I read online from the June 30 edition of your paper the editorial (‘Freeze wages, hire more teachers?’) asking teachers to take a wage freeze for two years so money can be spent on class size and composition, which would show that teachers really care about the students rather than how much money they make.

I am wondering if your paper did any research on this topic. In the 1990s teachers took a one-per-cent raise in a decade to guarantee class size and composition be put into the school act. We sacrificed wage increases to guarantee the class size and composition.

In 2001, Christy Clark and the education ministry stripped our contracts of class size and composition. This was one of her first tasks being education minister. Since 2001 we have not been able to negotiate class size and composition because this was now no longer a part of our contract that the liberals would allow us to negotiate.

The BCTF filed a complaint in the B.C. court system and in April 2011 the B.C. Supreme Court in Canada ruled in favour of teachers stating that in 2001 Christy Clark illegally and unconstitutionally stripped our contracts of working conditions which include class size and composition. The courts gave the Liberal government a year to rectify this but the Liberal government is not obligated to do this. The courts did not agree with the Liberal government who wanted to change class size and composition for flexibility purposes was truthful and in the end they found the reasons for the Liberal government to remove these provisions from teachers contracts was to save $275 million yearly from the education system.

So, sorry, you should be pressing the government to move on improving class size and composition.

The government has made no proposals under the current negotiations to make any effort to improve in these areas even though the courts found their stripping was illegal. George Abbott was on CKNW with Bill Good on July 7 stating that B.C. has tough economic times and decreasing a class by one student would cost $150 million.

You fault teachers but you have clearly not done your research. Class size and composition were negotiated for a decade at a cost of teachers receiving a wage increase of one per cent in 10 years. Christy Clark in 2001 illegally and unconstitutionally not only removed the previously negotiated class size and composition provisions in our contract she also stripped our right to negotiate class size and composition in future negotiations.

I hope you follow up your last editorial with the facts.

Leanne Pruner



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