VANCOUVER – The B.C. Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) and the B.C. government have been engaged in a dispute over contract negotiations wages, class sizes and composition for some months now; and the consequences are numerous.
Conflicts have intensified, resulting in a full-scale strike last week, on the heels of a failed bargaining session with the B.C. government.
Due to the strike, school let out earlier than usual, impacting the teaching and learning process on all levels of education.
“Obviously, none of us want to be here today. We all want to be in our classrooms,” said elementary school teacher, Bart Braun.
Among those affected were Filipino Grade 12 students in need of their final exam grades in order to get into an undergraduate program.
“Us students in grade 12 have been worrying about if we should study or not for provincial exams,” said Jhunathan Bonzo.
Valerie Balagbis, also in Grade 12, added, “Sa finals ko rin may mga test required sa college and medyo delayed ako doon like hindi ako makapasok ng college for that.”
Parents are also voicing out their concern about the consequences of the strike on their children’s education.
Elvie Balagbis, Valerie’s mother queried: “So papaano naman nga makakapunta yung estudyante para mag-register sa mga university if they don’t have enough requirements?”
Both sides, the BCTF and the B.C. government, have a long history of conflict, and some sectors are now crying out for resolution so as to deal with what is really important – the students and the educational process.
“Public, I really urge you to talk, but not just talk, but learn more info, not just hear one side, hear both sides and decide for yourself, but listen to this: It’s for the kids,” said elementary school teacher, Rich Abarquez.
Meanwhile, at a news conference held on Monday, BCTF’s president Jim Iker said that they cut their salary demands eight percent over five years, but with a $5,000 signing bonus.
The government, on the other hand, is bargaining for a lower wage; from their previous offer of 7.25 percent to seven percent with a $1,200 signing bonus.
Negotiations are ongoing.