Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster denies the government is motivated by a dislike of teachers.
Members of the B.C. Teachers Federation have referred to the Liberals as bullies because of the government’s proposed legislation that would initiate a cooling-off period in the dispute and a mediator.
“Next to being a parent, being a teacher is the most important job there is. They shape future generations,” said Foster, who was part of the forestry program at Charles Bloom Secondary School for 15 years.
“I have huge respect for the work my colleagues did and still do.”
However, Foster insists the government has to be firm in no net increase to wages.
“It’s not that we have the money and we don’t want to give it to them. We don’t have the money,” he said.
Teachers have sought a 15 per cent salary increase over three years.
“We have settled with other unions for net-zero,” said Foster, adding that issues surrounding class size and composition could be resolved.
Teachers will walk off the job Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and while he says it’s unfortunate, Foster defends the teachers’ right to strike.
“This is not an illegal walkout,” he said, adding that the BCTF has fulfilled Labour Relations Board rulings.
Foster doesn’t believes teachers have been well represented by the BCTF.
“This isn’t about teachers. This is about the union and employer knocking heads,” he said.