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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 3, November/December 2005

Overwhelming support

Support from teachers’ organizations across Canada

Winston Carter, CTF president
I am writing to you today on behalf of CTF, its 17 Members and the 210,000 teachers we represent in all of Canada’s provinces and territories to let you know that you are not alone in your fight for open and free collective bargaining. Such a heavy-handed tactic as using the legislature to impose a contract flies directly in the face of everything that we believe as a Canadian Teachers’ Federation. We will not stand idly by and allow such a heavy-handed and punitive measure be borne by one of our member organizations. We are all in this fight together and will remain one in solidarity.

All eyes in Canada are now focused on the plight of your teachers. Today we are sending a message that is loud and clear, that we will not tolerate what is happening in your province! This is wrong for students, it is wrong for education and it is wrong for teachers! We are also serving notice to any other government that is even considering such an action, that the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and its Member organizations will do whatever is necessary to ensure that democratic rights and principles will be respected in all future rounds of negotiations.

The draconian measures being used by the government of British Columbia to unilaterally impose a contract are nothing short of dictatorial. We believe that this desperate measure is the sign of a desperate government. This measure lacks imagination, compassion and honesty in resolving your labour issues. It is a bullying tactic by a government intent on imposing its way on the teachers and students of your province.

Our member organizations, 210,000 strong, throughout the provinces/territories stand ready and waiting to defend and serve the teachers of British Columbia!

Frank Bruseker, ATA president
On behalf of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, I wish to assure you and your colleagues of our support as the BC teachers deals with the provincial government and the current bargaining issues. If we can provide additional support, do not hesitate to contact us.

Emily Noble, ETFO president
Please know that 70,000 elementary teachers and education workers of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario stand with your members.

Even through the dark days of the Conservative Government here in Ontario, we never faced the kind of hostile and punitive measures your government is taking against teachers.

Brian Ardern, MTS president
On behalf of the 14,000 members of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society I extend our support to the teachers of BC as you face this critical situation. I would be honoured to walk the picket line with you.

Indu Varma, NBTFpresident
This letter of support is from all the teachers in New Brunswick to all the teachers in British Columbia. Perseverance in your endeavours will eventually bring you success.

Kevin Foley, NLTA president
On behalf of the teachers of Newfoundland and Labrador I offer our unqualified support in your struggle. Your fight is our fight and the fight of all groups who join together to bargain to improve quality of lives.

The teachers of our country are accomplishing more now than at any time in our history and, at the same time, being treated with more disdain than at any time in our history. We do not need to apologize for asking for what is rightfully due to us and the students in our care.

Mary-Lou Donnelly, NSTU president
Please convey to your members the support of 10,000 of their colleagues in Nova Scotia in your ongoing struggle to achieve a fair collective agreement. What affects your membership often looms on the horizon as a potential threat to our own members here on the East Coast. Do not hesitate to ask for any support and assistance we may be able to offer.

Amanda Mallon, NWTTA president
It is ironic that I sit down to write you on World Teachers’ Day, a day that should be celebrated by teachers, their public and governments everywhere. The Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association supports BCTF in its fight.

Donna Marie Kennedy, OECTA president
The members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) share your anger and disappointment at the treatment you’ve received. Yours is indeed a political protest, as the concerns of BCTF members transcend collective bargaining interests and speak directly to the welfare of the province’s students and the health of the public school system. We will do everything in our power to support you in this struggle.

Marilies Rettig, OTF president
Your fight for a fair, just and equitable collective agreement is an important one for each of your members, and indeed for all teachers right across this country. I express to your membership our support and solidarity of the 144,000 teachers of Ontario. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you in your struggle.

Rhonda Kimberley, OSSTF president
We congratulate you on your principled stand against a government determined to strip away decent working conditions for teachers and educational workers and erode positive learning opportunities for BC students.

We understand that your fight goes beyond collective bargaining and the obtainment of fair working conditions for your members. We also know that when colleagues in one province take a stand it helps all of us across the country. On behalf of the more than 58,000 members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, I wish our colleagues in British Columbia every success in their struggle to achieve a fair and reasonable outcome through free collective bargaining with the BC government. We will strive to offer you all the support that you may need.

Seana Evans-Renaud, PEITF president
We recognize that your teachers are at the forefront of the battle against those who promote consumerism, globalization, and privatization and that, in many ways, you are fighting for the teachers in this province, even at such a distance. You have the unqualified support of the teachers from Prince Edward Island, and that we will continue to support your struggle through the policies and practices of CTF and as an individual member organization.

Heather Vermeersch, STF president
On behalf of the teachers of Saskatchewan, I am pleased to extend our support as you move forward on a difficult road. Our members know that their colleagues in BC will remain steadfast and resolute in their pursuit of goals that are fair, reasonable and serve both the profession and their students. Your organization and your members can count on the respect and support of the teachers of Saskatchewan.

Sandra Henderson, YTA president
The members of the Yukon Teachers’ Association, though our numbers and resources are limited stand with our BC colleagues.

We are reminded that in 2001 the BCTF stood by us. We engaged in our first ever job action and the BCTF financial and moral support was immediate and without reservation.


International support from teacher unions

The following international groups either sent messages of support to the BCTF, letters to the BC government, and/or Canadian embassies abroad.

  • National Education Association
  • Washington Education Association
  • New South Wales Teachers’ Federation
  • South African Democratic Teachers’ Union
  • The Namibia National Teachers’ Union
  • National Confederation of Education Workers of Brazil
  • Education Workers’ Union of Costa Rica
  • Panamanian Educators’ Reformist Front
  • Tri-national Coalition for the Defense of Public Education, Mexico
  • Union of Guatemalan Educational Workers
  • Easling Teachers’ Association, London, UK
  • Peruvian Education Workers’ Union
  • National Union of Education Workers, Mexico
  • Union of the Autonomous Metropolitan University Workers
  • National Union of Educators, Ecuador

The CTF produced and ran supportive radio ads throughout BC and established a Teacher Hardship Fund of over one million dollars. The OSSTF and OTF produced and placed supportive full-page ads in The Vancouver Sun, The Province, and The Victoria Times-Colonist.

Scottish Parliament
Carolyn Leckie, a member of the Scottish Parliament introduced a motion in support of BC’s teachers.


BC faculties of education speak out

The Faculties of Education at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, and the University of Northern British Columbia all endorsed motions of support for the BC public school teachers’ recent actions.

The following message from the UVic faculty summarized their sentiments.

"Educators at all levels know the importance of having sufficient resources to do the job properly. They also know that successful learning requires class sizes that allow for meaningful pedagogical contact between teacher and student.

"Restricting the rights of British Columbia’s teachers to negotiate these conditions, along with the freezing of their Federation’s assets and its freedom to communicate with its membership, is of grave concern to many in this province."

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