B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair says B.C. Liberals are happy schools will close Tuesday

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      There was enormous sympathy for striking teachers at a B.C. Federation of Labour—sponsored picnic at Swangard Stadium.

      In a Labour Day interview with the Georgia Straight, B.C. Fed president Jim Sinclair said that after 18 months of bargaining, the B.C. Liberal government hasn't brought forth "one single dime" to address the central issue: class size and class composition.

      "They're actually happy the schools are closed tomorrow," Sinclair alleged. "This is part of their plan to bring in vouchers and try and break the union. Because otherwise, they could have sat down and solved this after 12 years."

      Two B.C. Supreme Court rulings have declared that the B.C. government violated teachers' constitutional rights by taking away their right to negotiate working conditions, including class size and the number of kids with special needs in each class.

      At a news conference yesterday, B.C. Teachers' Federation Jim Iker said that there were 16,000 classes in B.C. last year that had four or more kids with special needs. In 3,800 classes, there were seven or more kids with special needs, according to Iker.

      Sinclair said that a B.C. Supreme Court ruling has ordered the B.C. Liberal government to put money back into the system.

      "The public want it back," he added. "Teachers want it back. Students need it. So I only conclude since they haven't put a dime on the table, they're not that interested in public education or making the system work."

      The B.C. Federation of Labour president said that there's already a partial voucher system in B.C. That's because parents who put their kids in private schools have 50 percent of the school's operating funds covered by taxpayers.

      "It's already a voucher system that most of think is wrong," Sinclair said. "So they're just going to increase that voucher system."

      He also objected to tax credits being paid for certain types of tuition in private school.

      Parents can claim tax credits for private tuition as a medical expense if the child meets certain requirements. Parents can also obtain tax credits for tuition at a school that "teaches exlusively religion", according to the Canada Revenue Agency.

      "It's fundamentally wrong for the children," Sinclair said. "It's wrong for our society and for the country."

      He added that Canadian society is built on public education, which is why he's opposed to public funds flowing into the private system.

      "It's fundamental to have a decent education in order to participate in the economy," he noted.

      From Tuesday (September 2) to Friday (September 5), the B.C. Federation will hold successive daily raillies in Surrey (at Education Minister Peter Fassbender's constituency office), Kelowna (at Premier Christy Clark's constituency office), Prince George, and Vancouver.

      The Friday rally in Vancouver will take place beside Canada Place, where the B.C. cabinet meets in Vancouver.

      Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter @csmithstraight.

      Comments

      23 Comments

      blah

      Sep 1, 2014 at 4:29pm

      I'm happy the schools will stay closed also. Anything to get rid of this so called "leadership" of the teacher's union. Anybody that strikes 50 times over 27 years has some serious issues. It doesn't matter which government is in office, the teacher's union still wants to argue and fight. What is their problem? Obviously the people of BC are not backing the union in their latest misguided folly.

      AC

      Sep 1, 2014 at 4:51pm

      BC NDP would have had no better success with BCTF - in fact this particular union is colouring all unions in a bad light. Caught in the middle are the great teachers deserving much better and even six figure salaries in this noble profession, but lumped in the union with a bunch of lazy, greedy, militant ones. Bust them; no one can afford BCTF.

      Vancouver Watcher

      Sep 1, 2014 at 4:56pm

      Gee, poor little Jimmy flapping his gums and saying nothing! So pathetic!

      Yawn

      Sep 1, 2014 at 5:02pm

      It looks like all the usual suspects are lining up behind the BCTF. I'm sure the Liberals will appreciate the PR boost.

      Yeah right

      Sep 1, 2014 at 5:28pm

      Lol. So while teachers are starving they're having a picnic.

      If Sinclair is so outraged then why isn't he calling for a general strike? Presumably many of the people in the labour movement have kids in school, so why are THEY still going to work every day and making money? If the labour movement is so galvanized why are they growing fat while their teacher comrades are forming food banks?

      Those rallies are really going to do alot of good. Basically they will get a few groups of well-fed, well-paid people with awesome pension plans, to bugger off work for a few hours and wave some placards to get people to do the minimal amount of work possible - honking their horns. The government is just laughing at the BCTF right now because they are completely isolated from the other unions, who seem pretty happy with their contracts and ongoing negotiations. They aren't going to risk anything at this stage, so Sinclair will make a few remarks, some people will get an extra coffee/Facebook break and nothing will come of it. This government has faced huge rallies in the past and didn't even break a sweat.

      PS, while everyone is compiling those lists of parents who have kids in private school, make sure to include those who belong to unions. They definitely make enough to afford them.

      E Brown

      Sep 1, 2014 at 5:35pm

      I take issue with calling out Private schools. As usual the debate turns to criticism - pointed out only because the Public system is failing the students of B.C. There are 2 systems Private and Independent. Private receive 30% per student and Independent receive 50%. I as a taxpayer paid tuition plus taxes. My children are finished school and I am still paying taxes...I guess I should get a rebate since apparently there won't be any school. It's a choice you make and I'm glad I did...my kids never missed school because there was a labour issue. People have the misconception you are rich to be able to afford Independent schooling...not so. We worked hard to provide for our children and didn't buy designer clothes - we bought them uniforms instead which lasted a whole year. We didn't take big vacations...we went camping to afford their education. My kids didn't grow up with a sense of entitlement either. Parents have the right to make choices and your kids are your biggest responsibility. If the government had to provide buildings and land for the 76000 kids that attend Private or Independent schools the cost would be huge. So you tell me who's going to school tomorrow?

      It will only get worse

      Sep 1, 2014 at 6:13pm

      The sick business-oriented private property mentality of our governing bodies in all levels of our society will bring the collapse of any decency that we once had. The current dispute in BC with teachers is a small, small sliver of this assault.

      Class Warfare

      Sep 1, 2014 at 6:14pm

      This is all about class warfare, and the rich are winning. If you don't want to take my word for it the Google Warren Buffett and class warfare.

      realwickedone

      Sep 1, 2014 at 6:14pm

      SHAME SHAME ON YOU CHRISTY!!! TIME YOU RESIGNED!!!!!!

      Fran

      Sep 1, 2014 at 8:18pm

      If Sinclair is correct, then the smartest thing the teachers could do is to end the strike and put the students first.