Support for teachers continues!

BC Fed reaffirms support for teachers in emergency meeting Sunday, October 10.Monday, October 10, 2005

Vancouver – An emergency meeting of Labour leaders on Monday voted unanimously to continue their support of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation to fight for a fair collective agreement, and called on union members to bolster protest lines and attend province wide rallies in support of BC’s teachers on Tuesday evening, said B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair.

The leaders – members of the Executive Officers of the B.C. Federation of Labour, also called on the provincial government to move quickly to find a table where the two parties can sit down and work out the problems facing teachers and the where education system. “Labour leaders representing workers from all sectors of our economy understand how important it is for teachers to have the right to bargain a collective agreement and not have their rights torn up by the government,” Sinclair said.

“The only solution for students, parents and workers is for the government to sit down and negotiate an agreement,” stated Sinclair. “Court orders and Labour Relations Board decisions will not provide one solution or improve one condition for teachers and students or the pubic education system,” said Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

“We met with government last week and tried to find a solution,” Sinclair noted. “The Campbell government has a choice to make confrontation or negotiation. I remain hopeful that the government recognizes negotiation is the only way to end this dispute.”

The Federation, in conjunction with local Labour Councils, announced rallies in support of teachers to be held around the province beginning Tuesday evening. In Vancouver the rally is scheduled for 5:30 pm at Canada Place, the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. In Victoria, a rally is scheduled to kick off at 5:00 pm at the Greater Victoria School Board. Rallies are also scheduled across Vancouver Island, the Kootenays, BC’s North and Interior. More information can be found at www.bcfed.com.

“Teachers are willing to look for solutions, we’re available to talk any time the government calls,” said BC Teachers’ Federation President Jinny Sims. Taking action wasn’t teachers first choice, it’s now our only choice.” Sims thanked the public, parents and the labour movement for their ongoing support.

Sinclair called on union members who are parents of school aged children to stand with the teachers and show solidarity. He noted that while parents and families are inconvenienced, most understand that if teachers don’t take a stand for our kids’ learning conditions, nothing will improve.

The public, by a two-to-one margin oppose the actions of the government in ordering the teachers back-to-work according to a poll released by the Federation. The poll, conducted by Ideaworks/Stratcomm on October 6 and 7 showed that teachers enjoy the support of the public in their demands for improved learning conditions and a fair wage increase.

In particular 67 percent of British Columbians surveyed disagreed with the BC Liberals decision to impose a contract on teachers. Over half of those surveyed indicated teachers should be allowed to negotiate class size and special needs support at the bargaining table. Similarly over half indicated they supported public protests if the government ordered teachers back-to-work.

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For more information, please contact Jessie Uppal at 604 430-1421 or 604 220-0739.

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