||Volume 16, Number 4, March 2004 |
Since our last edition, B.C. teachers have moved forward together, welcoming important change in government policy on the college issue and marking a victory in the Supreme Court on contract stripping.
It was December 10, 2003—International Human Rights Day, appropriately enough—when Christy Clark announced that she would restore democratic governance to the B.C. College of Teachers. Outstanding!
On January 22, 2004, former arbitrator Eric Rice’s over-zealous stripping of our collective agreement was overturned. Supreme Court Justice Duncan Shaw ruled: "In light of the fundamental nature of the errors of law, the determination of the arbitrator must be quashed." Bravo!
However, at press time the College of Political Appointees remains in office and the B.C. Liberals have not yet decided whether to appeal Shaw’s ruling or appoint yet another arbitrator, the fifth. These are significant decisions facing the new Minister of Education, Tom Christensen.
I look forward to working with Christensen on these and many other issues. To his credit, he made a point of calling both the teachers’ and trustees’ organizations on his first day in office. He has already met with Prince George teachers. I was heartened to learn that he voted against his own government’s legislation to impose the two-year time limit on welfare benefits.
As someone who has taken political action on a firm principle, I expect Christensen will understand teachers’ principled action to defend our public education system.
The true measure of the new minister will be new policies, not just a new face on the education scene. What remains constant, no matter who sits in the minister’s office, is the commitment of teachers province-wide to advocating on behalf of our students. We will continue building upon our strengths, and striving to improve learning conditions for our students and working conditions for our members.