BC Supreme Court orders remedy for teachers
It took a decade to get through the courts, but a decision finally said that the BC Liberal government acted illegally when it took away the right for teachers to bargain important learning and working conditions.
Christy Clark, as Education Minister, brought changes to the law in 2002 that stripped the teacher collective agreement of many guarantees that had previously been negotiated. The law went even further, decreeing that these items could never be negotiated in the future.
Madame Justice Susan Griffin said the government was wrong. It did not have the authority to take away collective bargaining rights because they are guaranteed to Canadians through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Justice Griffin referred to a decision the Supreme Court of Canada that says that “recognition of the right to collectively bargain as part of the freedom to associate ‘reaffirms the values of dignity, personal autonomy, equality and democracy that are inherent in the Charter.’”
The Justice had this to say about the impact of Clark’s contract-breaking law:
“The legislation undoubtedly was seen by teachers as evidence that the government did not respect them to be valued contributors to the education system, having excluded them from any freedom to associate to influence their working conditions. This was a seriously deleterious effect of the legislation, one adversely disproportionate to any salutary effects revealed by the evidence.”
The Justice declared the legislation invalid, but suspended the effect of the judgment for one year to address a remedy to the deleterious impact of the legislation.
The BCTF has held several meetings with representatives of the province on remedy, but so far the province has not given any sign that it will act in a way that shows the respect that the Justice has said comes from teachers being able to influence their working conditions through collective bargaining.
The full text of the judgement is available here.