The Teacher’s strike was always about limiting class sizes and special needs educational requirements.
BC currently has the highest public student to teacher ratio in the country. In fact, the provincial government would have to hire at least 6,600 more teachers just to meet the national average.
In addition, the number of classrooms with 4 or more special needs students per class has increased by over 3000 in just the last 5 years alone.
Also alarmingly, 1 in 3 teacher librarians have been lost in the public education system over the last 10 years.
Last night, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) voted 86% in favour of ratification of a deal that gives teachers a 7.25% salary increase over 6 years, extended health benefit increases, increases in pay for on-call shifts, $400 million dollars to address student special needs, and a lesser amount to deal with the cost of past grievances.
The key issue of class sizes and composition has not been addressed.
CUPE 391 received financial donations from the teachers when we were on strike in 2007. We therefore have donated $1000 to the BCTF from our Labour Organizations Fund which was previously set aside and approved at our Last Annual General Meeting. The Labour Organizations Fund is money set aside as potential donations for strike pay for Unions in BC.
In addition to our financial contribution, myself and others have walked the line with teachers, particularly at Strathcona and Britannia where library branches share school locations.
Publicly, I have also spoke in solidarity with teachers most recently at the Vancouver District Labour Council meeting where the BCTF was also present.
We continue to support teachers and are glad students can now return to the delayed school year. This delay came about because of 12 months of bargaining and a full strike against a provincial government that could have come to an agreement a long time ago but instead chose to try and break the BCTF (which they did not).
Students return to schools starting this Monday.
President, CUPE 391
Vancouver, Gibsons & Sechelt Public Library Workers