I think I deserve a medal.
Or, perhaps more aptly, a gold star.
I sat through the 20-minute conference call with Premier Christy Clark Wednesday, then I watched the 25-minute press conference with British Columbia Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker and, to top it off, I had a 10-minute interview with Education Minister Peter Fassbender (Fact-bender, as the teachers like to call him).
After all that I’ve haven’t run, screaming, to the nearest bridge, so that deserves some sort of recognition.
There is no love lost between the government and the teachers, of that there is no doubt. The two sides have to find a way to get past that. There was hope when mediator Vince Ready got involved, but when he booked out, the wheels fell off the train and we are descending into madness.
There is plenty of speculation that Clark and the Liberal government, fresh off their surprising election win last year, are now going to stick it to the toughest opposition they have – the BCTF.
I don’t know if that’s the case, but there are some puzzling things going on here.
When the Liberal government re-wrote the labour laws some years back, they instituted a clause allowing for a cooling-off period. During the cooling-off period, the workers go back to work and, as indicated, everyone cools down a bit.
Why haven’t they ordered a cooling-off period? Premier Christy Clark has been inflaming the situation more than trying to cool things down.
In previous disputes with the teachers, the government has simply decreed that getting students back into the classroom is paramount and tabled back-to-work legislation.
While both the government and the union spout that students’ education is paramount, it, really, is the last thing on their minds.
Clark and Fassbender are adamant that the government will not order teachers back to the classroom. And that begs the question of how long the teachers can hold out?
Iker dodged that question during his press conference.
Remember, teachers haven’t had a paycheque since June and, without strike pay, that mortgage payment is undoubtedly looming large. It wouldn’t be a stretch for the schemers in government to be thinking teachers will start abandoning principles in favour of paying their bills by October.
Could that be government’s strategy? Wait out the teachers?
However, it flies in the face of what both sides profess … that their main priority is getting students back in the classroom.
Sadly, that seems to be the last thing on everyone’s mind right now, except the students.