A teacher’s point of view on the strike

I’m a proud teacher, happy to have the support of all who have taken the time to be informed about the issues of our dispute.

I’m also a frustrated teacher who reads and hears comments from uninformed citizens that teachers are only striking to get a wage increase and that the kids are pawns in the game.

Please realize that teachers are fighting for the rights of your children to get the best education possible. This fight is about class size and composition.

Please realize that as always teachers take less of an increase in pay to fight for better learning conditions for the students. It is the teachers who provided movement on wages as we always do.

Please realize we are the only union that has to negotiate on behalf of a third party while trying to get a raise that keeps up with inflation. This is why teachers start at the “outrageous” levels they do in negotiations. We know that we will have to give up salary to get something for the kids.

Please realize that we fought to get class size and composition into our collective agreement. This fight is about learning conditions for your children.

Please realize that when the government tore up those contracts and threw out class size and composition, it was the teachers who spent all of their union money to fight the government in court. You’ve probably heard the BCTF is broke. That’s why.

Please realize the government was subsequently ruled against twice by the Supreme Court of BC for illegally tearing up the contracts and that they continue to ignore these rulings.

Please realize in the meantime 41,000 teachers will go without three quarters of their pay this month to fight this battle on behalf of the students and their right to a proper education. It is not about the wages.

Would you, the “regular” working person not “protected by a union” forego three quarters of your month’s salary for someone else? I too have a family to take care of and this means I, and all teachers, sacrifice on behalf of our families, not just ourselves, for all students.

Finally, I address this last comment to the apparently “uninformed” Ms. Christy Clark.

Release the chains and give the bargaining group the freedom to truly negotiate rather than stall until you save enough money to once again legislate.

Only then can we move forward because this fight is not about wages, it is about restoring what is fair and best for our children.

Larry Ryan

Burnaby School Teacher

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